Wednesday, 1 May 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
42. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason there is such a long waiting period concerning the payment of the lone parent allowance, particularly in cases where the applicant is a deserted wife and where it might take the social welfare officer some time to collect the relevant information; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The lone parent allowance scheme which I introduced in November 1990 is means-tested. This requires that claimants' means and family circumstances have to be assessed. In most cases, this involves a visit and interview by a social welfare officer.
The lone parents scheme is not confined to deserted wives. It is available to men and women who do not have a partner to assist them in rearing children. Unlike the schemes which it subsumes, it does not seek to categorise that claimants and recipients.
Under the old arrangements, lengthy delays did occur where there were disputes as to desertion and both parties had to be contacted, sometimes several times, before the facts could be fully established.
I have also recently introduced more streamlined assessment procedures to reduce the time taken to investigate and decide claims. These important measures will be gradually extended, as other new controls are developed and applied, and will, in due course, cover the lone parents scheme. If the Deputy is concerned about a delay occurring in any particular case I would be pleased to have it investigated immediately.
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