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Chaotic breakdown in the delivery of Illness Benefit

19 October 2018

Statement by Willie Penrose TD
Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Rural & Community Affairs

Labour Party Spokesperson for Social Protection has said the delays in processing illness benefit payments are unacceptable, and that the responsible Minister for Social Protection and her Department must ensure all those impacted are automatically given a payment, rather than having to go through the community welfare service.

Deputy Penrose said:

"For weeks now, there has been a chaotic breakdown in the delivery of Illness Benefit by the Department of Employment and Social Protection.

"People are being left for weeks with no payment and being referred to the community welfare service (CWS). But illness benefit is a social insurance payment while the CWS operates means-tested payments, meaning many people who are sick or in recovery from operations are being left without an income.

"There is a Social Protection helpline set up for Oireachtas members, but calls are not being effectively answered. The response from Minister Doherty and her entire Department has been wholly inadequate. Weeks now people have been waiting for a payment to which they are wholly entitled.

"The bottom line is that people who are off work due to illness or injury are not receiving their social insurance entitlement, while some longstanding recipients of Illness Benefit have had their payments suddenly stopped.

"Many people who depend solely on this payment have been and are being left with no money whatsoever for a number of weeks. Does the Minister not worry that by depriving people of this payment the condition of their illness will worsen?

"However the solution put in place is not acceptable and we don't know when the problem will be resolved.

"I am calling on the Minister and her Department to ensure all those impacted receive their illness benefit payment without delay, and that internal system which clearly needs review are investigated to prevent this happening again."