The Department of Social Welfare was incorporated under the Ministers and Secretaries Amendment Act 1946. It was renamed the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs in 1997. It became the Department of Social and Family Affairs in 2002 and the Department of Social Protection in 2010.
The Department of Social protection formulates social protection policies, administers and manages statutory and non-statutory social and family schemes and works with other departments and agencies to deliver government priorities. It makes payments to almost a million persons and deals with almost 1.7 million claims annually.
It provides access to income support and other services, enables participation of social inclusion and supports families.
Its goals are to ensure adequate sustainable pensions for retired and older persons and additional services in response to their changing needs while maintaining a reasonable standard of living.
It seeks to provide income support and access to services for persons of income, working age and cannot secure an income or adequate income from employment and facilitate them in taking up employment training, education and development opportunities.
it seeks to ensure the wellbeing of children through income support, assisting with childbearing costs. It seeks to target those in particular need and disadvantage.
It seeks to ensure the level of Social Security coverage is appropriate to the social and economic circumstances of different groups and services are available in an efficient, effective, and integrated way through direct provision to customers.
It seeks to support and promote families to attain better outcomes in and to attain better outcomes in tackling poverty and achieving a more inclusive society. This is done through coordinating, developing, and implementing national anti-poverty strategies, attribution of income and other support services for people in hardship and in debt.
Scheme Sections and Offices
The Employment Support Services Scheme was established in 1993. The support, transition from work — unemployment to work by. It seeks to link unemployed persons with education, training, development and work opportunities. It is responsible for the facilitation program through ten regional coordinators and 33 job facilitators in Social Welfare Offices locally. It is responsible for the
Back to Work Allowance (Enterprise) Scheme, the Back to Work Allowance (Employees) Scheme, Employers’ PRSI Exemption Scheme and the Back to Education Allowance Scheme, the Family Services Scheme project.
Apart from schemes administered centrally by devolved offices located in Sligo, Longford, Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford and Dublin, certain schemes delivered via a local network of offices through ten regions. These include; Back to Education; Back to Work Allowance; Disability Benefit; Part-Time Job Incentive; Unemployment Assistance and Benefit; Farm Assist; Pre-Retirement and One-Parent Family Payments.
The Longford Social Welfare Service office is responsible for a range of benefits including Bereavement Grant, Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Allowance; Death Benefits; Family Income Supplement; Disablement Benefit; Smokeless Fuel Allowance, Rent Allowance; Unemployment Supplement.
The Supplementary Welfare Allowance section advises the Minister on SWA policies and provides general direction and control under which the HSE exercises operational responsibility for the scheme. It manages certain programs including the Manage Home Heating Program and the Child Education Program including Back to School Clothing and Footwear Scheme, School Meals, Urban and Gaeltacht School Meals Schemes, the Customer Services.
The Respite Care Grant Section deals with payments to full-time carers who are entitled to certain payments subject to conditions relating to employment and medical considerations.
The Short-Term Illness Section administers Disability Benefit, Injury Benefit and Medical Care Schemes. Applications are made initially to doctors who are medical certifiers for the scheme.
The Child, Treatment Benefits and Maternity Schemes Office is responsible for Adoptive Benefit; Child Benefit; Dental Benefit; Health and Safety Benefit; Maternity Benefit; Medical Appliances and Optical Benefit.
Services and Sections
The Corporate Service section deals with personal-finance facilities and management.
The planning division is responsible for formulation of policies and advice to the Minister.
The Social Welfare Services is responsible for the administration and management of the social welfare schemes through local, regional and other offices. It is headed by a Director-General.
Services are delivered on a 10 region basis with regional offices in Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Longford, Sligo, Dundalk and three in Dublin. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an independent office responsible for appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlement.
The Management Service Unit provides support for Social Welfare Services and manages and monitors performance. The Director General’s office provides secretarial support for the Director-General and support in overseeing the running of social welfare services.
The Civil Registration Service develops and implements a program to modernise civil registration service. It is a joint program between the Departments of Social Protection and Health.
The Decisions Advisory Office and Freedom of Information Unit ensure decisions made on social welfare claims are consistent and of good quality and that customers are notified of decisions in a clear and understandable form. It implements Freedom of Information legislation in that department.
The Regional offices are under the control of the Regional Director with responsibilities for the: Services, Field Services, Financial Services, Compliance, Performance and Audit matters in relation to them.
The Information Systems Division has sought to employ IT in improving customer service and scheme, streamlining the delivery and development of schemes and services.
Quality Customer Service Unit is responsible for the improvement of customer services through the Department. It implements and monitors twelve Quality Customer Service Principles.
The Medical Assessment Section comprises the Chief Medical Adviser and Deputies and teams of Medical Assessors employed full time. They provide a second opinion to Deciding Officers on questions of medical criteria in the context of departments’ illness-related schemes.
The Unemployment Schemes Unit provides guidance and advice to local office and investigating staff in relation to employment schemes and benefits and related payment.
The Labour Market Unit monitors trends and labour market issues. It reports on Live Register matters and establishes — has imposed. It participates in the National Employment Service Advisory Committee, coordinates inputs into the Employment Action Plan.
The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) with base in Cork and was responsible for the management of the program.
Habitual Residence Condition Section monitor’s policy in relation to the implementation of habitual residence conditions and provides advice to support scheme areas and Local Social Welfare Offices. The Control Division develops the control policies and strategies seeking to reduce fraud and error.
The Service Delivery Modernisation Section seeks to reorganise and integrate services around the customer by changing processes, organisational structures and support systems. It seeks to define requirements and provide support for the development of the Business Object Model, develop and lead a program of organisational change.
The Client Identity Services and REACH have responsibility for the management of the Personal Public Service Numbers and Social Services Cards.
REACH is an initiative to foster and develop citizen-related and integrated public services. It
- seeks to improve services by developing integrated accessible services across the public sector;
- develop the public service broker and associated framework for implementing integrated public service delivery;
- improve public service administration.
The insurability and PRSI Refund section is responsible for determinations on the insurability of employment.
Client Eligibility, Self-Employment and International Services deal with social insurance records and contributions especially for deduction of PRSI and PRSI for the self-employed. International services deal with exchanges with EEA and other countries with which there are bilateral, Social Security conventions.
The Central Overpayments and Debt Management Unit is responsible for recording and reporting details of overpayment and details of recovery.
Payments are made through An Post’s network of offices by Electronic Funds Transfer to banks and financial institutions and payments to medical professionals.
The Pensions Services Office is responsible for schemes associated with retirement, orphans, single parents, Lone Parent’s Allowance as well as ancillary benefit.