It would probably be impossible to establish a social welfare scheme that satisfies all of those who rely on it, those who administer it, and those who pay for it. Despite that, details of appeals for payments and, especially, the length of time involved in resolving those appeals, suggests that it is necessary to review our current practices.
Following inquiries to the Department of Social Protection, Fianna Fáil’s Kerry deputy, John Brassil, has pointed out that the majority — over 60% — of welfare, pension, and carers’ allowance claims appeals, and others too, are resolved in favour of the applicant, but that applicants face untoward delays.
Those delays are stressful, too, especially if the contested allowance is a primary source of income. Something around a third of the State’s income is spent on social welfare to alleviate hardship and struggle, a social advance we should all take pride in, even if some payments seem at best modest.
There may be some fraud, but that abuse pales into almost insignificance when compared to adventures at the opposite end of the economic spectrum — more often than not the source of criticism of our system’s ‘unsustainable generosity’.
Administering a welfare system is a complex mixture of the need to protect the public purse and protecting vulnerable citizens. Most applicants are honest and their difficulties should not be exacerbated by delay, when at all possible.