FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD says there needs to be flexibility in the social welfare system for the duration of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Deputy O’Dea said he and his colleagues have been receiving a number of calls regarding access and entitlements to social welfare as a result of disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“I acknowledge that the Department is doing the best it can in these very difficult circumstances,” he said, “but it is essential that where possible, flexibility and discretion are shown.”
The Limerick City TD said as an example, pensioners should be able to receive a lump sum of three or four weeks of their state pension “to minimise social interactions”.
He said, “Furthermore, pregnant women who have become unemployed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic should not see their PRSI contributions and entitlement to maternity benefit affected. We also need a greater degree of clarity regarding secondary benefits during this period.
“Over the coming weeks, there is likely to be even greater demands on the social welfare system. However, we must recognise that in such unique circumstances a one-size-fits-all approach to the application of social welfare will not necessarily work and I would, therefore, urge the government to build flexibility and discretion into the system to assist people during these very difficult times”.