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2.2 million received weekly social welfare payment last year - report

The Minister for Social Protection has published two reports detailing work undertaken by her Department in 2011.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has revealed that 2.2 million people across the country benefited from a weekly social welfare payment last year.

Publishing the Department of Social Protection Annual Report 2011 and Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2011, Burton said that payments were made to 1.4 million people last year and made over 87.6 million scheme payments last year.

The total expenditure by the Department in 2011 was almost €21 billion.

“Behind each and every one of these statistics is a real person or family. Delivering the Department’s services is not just about numbers but about affecting the daily lives and well being of all our citizens particularly in these challenging times,” said Burton.

She continued:

These figures demonstrate the scale of my Department’s work, administering over 70 separate schemes and services which impact on the lives of almost every person in the State.
The Department has embarked on a transformation process which, in 2011, included the integration of the former Community Welfare Service into my Department, the transfer of responsibility for the processing of claims under the Redundancy and Insolvency Payment Schemes, the transfer of responsibility for Social Inclusion and, preparations for the transfer of over 700 staff in Employment Services and Community Employment Services from FÁS in January 2012.

The Social Protection statistics in 2011 reveal a number of key findings, including:

  • Expenditure on State Pensions increased by 3.3 per cent to just over €6 billion, and payments were made to over 522,000 people in this area
  • Expenditure on Working Age Employment Supports increased by 186 per cent to almost €860 million overall in 2011. When additional expenditure on FÁS Employment Supports is discounted (as their budgets were transferred to the Department in 2011), the increase in expenditure for the other schemes was 45 per cent
  • Expenditure on Jobseeker payments decreased by 4.7 per cent to over €3.9 billion due to budget cuts, and a 22.2 per cent decrease in the number of recipients of the weekly Jobseekers Benefit payment was observed
  • Overall, 379,973 people were in receipt of a weekly Jobseekers payment
  • More than 597,000 families received a monthly Child Benefit payment which was paid in respect of over 1,136,000 children. Expenditure on Child Benefit decreased by 6.2 per cent to just under €2.1 billion due to budget cuts
  • Expenditure on Carer’s Allowance increased by 1.1 per cent while expenditure on Carer’s Benefit decreased by 6.9 per cent – meanwhile the numbers in receipt of a Carer’s payment increased by 2.1 per cent
  • There were 24,666 recipients of the Back to Education allowance – an increase of 16.6 per cent from last year – and expenditure on this scheme increased by 12 per cent to almost €202 million
  • Family Income Supplement was paid to over 28,800 families, 2.3 per cent more than the previous year, and benefiting almost 65,300 children; expenditure on Family Income Supplement increased by 10 per cet to almost €205 million

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Meanwhile, significant pieces of work by the Department of Social Protection in 2011 include the launch of JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, in June 2011. The report shows that, by the end of the year, over 3,600 interns were selected by host organisations and in excess of 5,000 internships were posted on the JobBridge website. To date over 8,700 people have availed of the Scheme.

Other work of significance included the establishment of the National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES), which aims to integrate benefit payments services and employment services within the Department, and also the launch of a new fraud initiative, Fraud Initiative 2011-2013.

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