Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Applications
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1258 to 1260, inclusive, together.
The main purpose of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.
Under SWA, my Department can make a single Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. There is no automatic entitlement to these payments which are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case, in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.
The person concerned applied for assistance with the cost of repairing her heating system and a cheque for €760 was issued, payable to the repair company. This cheque has been returned uncashed to the Department.
I am advised that the person concerned also sought assistance with another bill. The Department encourages customers to engage with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to establish a manageable and sustainable path out of debt. Where this has occurred, my Department may make a contribution towards reducing the debt.
I understand that person concerned has been advised to contact MABS for assistance with managing these bills and she was also advised that she may subsequently apply for assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme and her eligibility will be assessed in the usual manner.
I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.