De­lays in the pay­ment of ill­ness ben­e­fit are crit­i­cised

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

CLAR­I­FI­CA­TION on the rea­sons for the de­lay in the pay­ment of ill­ness ben­e­fit in re­cent months was sought in the Dáil by Sinn Féin Deputy John Brady.

‘Thou­sands of our cit­i­zens, some of whom are the sick­est in the State, have re­ceived re­duced pay­ments or no pay­ments what­so­ever,’ he said. ‘It has not only had an im­pact on peo­ple fi­nan­cially, it has put them in pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tions. They have been forced into debt and have had to face se­ri­ous is­sues with te­nan­cies be­cause of be­ing un­able to pay rent. I wel­come that the Min­is­ter has bro­ken her si­lence on this mat­ter and has is­sued some state­ments re­cently.’

Many peo­ple, he said, are still con­tact­ing him to say that they have not re­ceived a penny.

‘We need an up­date on how many peo­ple have not re­ceived pay­ments.’

In re­sponse, the Min­is­ter for Em­ploy­ment & So­cial Af­fairs, Regina Do­herty said a tran- sition to a new in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tem in Au­gust led to a num­ber of peo­ple on ill­ness ben­e­fit re­ceiv­ing par­tial or no pay­ments dur­ing re­cent months.

‘Fol­low­ing re­me­dial ac­tion taken by the De­part­ment in re­cent days, how­ever, pay­ment lev­els have now re­turned to nor­mal,’ she said. ‘Ac­tion taken on two oc­ca­sions last week led to 54,000 pay­ments be­ing is­sued. The nor­mal ac­tiv­ity is 50,000 pay­ments. Ev­ery sin­gle per­son due an out­stand­ing pay­ment this week re­ceived his or her pay­ment this week. Some peo­ple are still await­ing ar­rears from pre­vi­ous weeks, but ev­ery sin­gle per­son en­ti­tled to ill­ness ben­e­fit in the last week has re­ceived a pay­ment.’

Min­is­ter Do­herty said she was not happy with the com­mu­ni­ca­tions over the cou­ple of weeks.

‘Most peo­ple in our De­part­ment and in this House will ac­cept that our De­part­ment is es­pe­cially cus­tomer-fo­cused and is par­tic­u­larly en­gaged in com­mu­ni­ca­tions,’ she added.

Deputy John Brady.

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