Delays in the payment of illness benefit are criticised
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.