LIMERICK Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has raised concerns over the timescale for processing emergency social protection payments in the city and county.
Speaking in the Dáil earlier this week, he made special reference to the Additional Needs Payment that supports families when unexpected and essential expenses arise that they cannot afford from their weekly income.
“My constituency office in Limerick has been contacted about the long wait times for these payments more frequently in recent months. I have been contacted by local residents who have applied for urgent payments but haven’t received a prompt response about the status of their application.
“The Community Welfare Service (CWS) delivers the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. Unfortunately, the feedback we are receiving from applicants is that applications are taking a long time to process.
“Since the sudden centralisation of the CWS during the summer, I have observed two major failings. The first is that we now have a situation where people awaiting decisions from the Appeals Office are being advised not to apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance as the wait time is likely to be longer than the wait time for the appeal decision itself.
“The second failing is that people allocated social houses are waiting a minimum of eight weeks to receive their new home kit which enables them to buy essential such as cooking appliances and beds.
“This is putting a huge strain on the most vulnerable families. It is leaving people without any stream of income and turning what should be a celebratory event, gaining a forever home, into a nightmare.
“We have people waiting 12 weeks for decisions on initial applications for long term payments such as the invalidity pension, the disability allowance and the carers allowance.
“The very minimum they should expect from the State is that the CWS is in good working order and can deliver on these needs promptly as had always been the case.
“Since the recent centralisation, we have seen timelines on applications increase on a near weekly basis. Timelines have jumped from six weeks to eight weeks, to ten weeks and now there is now specified timeline. Why? Because the centralisation has not worked. The community aspect has been removed to leave just a welfare service,” he declared.