Social Welfare system must be flexible during crisis

Deputy Willie O'Dea Photo: Brendan Gleeson

FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Willie O’Dea believes the Social Welfare system must be more flexible during the Covid-19 emergency.

Deputy O’Dea told the Limerick Post that he has received numerous calls regarding access and entitlement to social welfare payments over recent weeks.

”I acknowledge that the Department is doing the best it can in these very difficult circumstances, but it is essential that where possible, flexibility and discretion are shown.

“I believe that pensioners should be able to receive three or four weeks of their State pension in one lump sum if they so wish to minimise social interactions. 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,” he said.

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Deputy O’Dea also predicts that 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,” he concluded.