Written Answers - Social Welfare Benefits.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 668 No. 3

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  409.  Deputy Joe Costello  Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello   asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   if funding is available, including humanitarian funding, for residents who were affected by the flooding in August 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42137/08]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Deputy Mary Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, which is administered by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE), is designed to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. Under the legislation governing the scheme, the HSE may make a single payment to meet an exceptional need to people on social welfare or health service executive payments. This is a once-off payment to meet an unforeseen or special need that cannot be met from a person’s basic income.

[718]Assistance in the form of an Urgent Needs Payment (UNP) can be also made to people who would not normally be entitled to SWA, to assist, for example in cases of flood damage with immediate needs, such as food, clothing, fuel, household goods and shelter. Assistance can be provided to people affected in cash or in kind. There is no automatic entitlement to these payments. Each application is determined on the particular circumstances of the case. In assessing income, consideration is given as to whether a person is in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment or to the gross household income with allowance made as appropriate under normal SWA means assessments.

Over the past few months, flooding has been experienced in a number of areas of the country. The Department’s role in response to the recent flooding primarily involves supporting the community welfare service in the provision of ENP and UNP funding in the short term and other supports where applicable to cater for the long term effects of the flooding. Any support given relates to damage to a person’s home or loss of essential items. It does not extend to business or commercial losses. Over €80,000 has been paid out in response to flooding incidents this year to date. Local community welfare officers are available to provide assistance on an individual basis where that is warranted. Any person experiencing hardship as a result of the recent flooding should contact their local community welfare officer in the first instance.

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