Fianna Fáil Dublin City Councillor, Paul McAuliffe has criticised the Department of Social Protection for failing to provide an offline method to supply relevant documentation related to the Contributory State Pension.

McAuliffe, who is the party’s General Election candidate in Dublin North-West, was commenting as it emerged that those with gaps in their contributory pension record have received letters inviting them to submit evidence to clarify why those gaps arose. For instance, taking time to care for children or a close loved one.

He said, “It came to my attention this week that those that are required to provide subsequent information to support their claim for the Contributory Pension are forced to submit it online via the Department of Social Protection webpage welfare.ie. This is despite the fact that a huge proportion of this generation do not have access to a device hooked up to the internet or are unfamiliar with how to access online services.

“I know first-hand from assisting constituents who have found this process difficult that the contact phone number is virtually impossible to get through to. That leaves them with no means of clarifying any gaps in their pension.

“People are frustrated especially as there is no alternative offline method of supplying the information they have been asked for in order to receive their pension payments. It cannot and should not be assumed that everyone is in the position to freely access or navigate the internet to sort essential State services.

“The changes introduced to the contributory pension in 2012 caused hardship for a great deal of older people but now almost 7 years later they are still being let down.

“I have been informed that the Department are currently designing an offline method to submit documentation but one would have to wonder if this process was designed in such a way that it deterred people from seeking a pension increase at all,” he concluded.