Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has welcomed Minister Heather Humphreys’ confirmation this morning that her proposal to put emergency financial payments, such as the Additional Needs Payment, online is being examined by the Department.
The Roscommon TD urged the Minister to ensure that this is followed through on so that emergency payments are as accessible as possible to those who need them the most.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“There is a cohort of people who are not comfortable with approaching a Community Welfare Officer in the hope of financial assistance.
“I previously spoke to a lone parent in her early fifties who has worked all her life and she told me that she would feel embarrassed and ashamed to have to do this. I raised this case in the Dáil a couple of weeks ago.
“Nobody should ever feel ashamed about accessing necessary financial supports but these issues can be overcome by putting the application for emergency assistance online. Other social welfare payments can already be applied for online.
“I welcome that Minister Humphreys has confirmed that her Department is examining the possibility of making this application available online.
“I urge her to ensure that this is followed through on as quickly as possible so that emergency payments are accessible to those who need them the most.
“Emergency payments are going to continue to be an important support. The cost of living crisis is worsening and we need to ensure emergency payments are easily accessible and can be dealt with quickly and efficiently to get money into people’s pockets when they are in dire straits.
“I also raised the continued difficulties regarding access to Community Welfare Officers as have others in opposition.
“It is no coincidence that the drop-in payments made under both Exceptional Needs and Urgent Needs followed changes to how the public now access these officers.
“The drop-in element is gone, and this was important in communities, especially for older people. This element of Community Welfare Services must be restored and we will continue to push the government to address this.”