Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that Minister Doherty needs to step up and resolve the issues with Illness Benefit Payments which are leaving thousands of vulnerable Dubliners without money and in a very precarious financial position.

Senator Ardagh said, “Illness benefit is paid to PAYE workers who are unable to go to work due to severe illness. This is a payment that is based on their contributions to the PRSI fund.

“If the State cannot get its act together and ensure timely payment of money that citizens are entitled to, of course people will start to question why they make contributions in the first place.

“The issues related to disagreements between GPs and the Department are well-documented with regard to the filling out of new forms. We all want a more efficient system, but the way in which the changes to the system have been implemented has been nothing but shoddy.

“No one seems to be concerned about the people in receipt of illness benefit who are caught in the cross-fire between the Department and GP representatives.

“I and my Fianna Fáil colleagues across the city and county are inundated with complaints from those who have once again not received their weekly payment. Some people have been left some four and five weeks without a single payment and have to rely on family or friends.

“To make matters worse, anyone who uses this payment to pay household bills by direct debit for instance will have to foot a cost every time the direct debit bounces from not having the funds in their account.

“The Department are so inundated with phone calls that those affected cannot get through to speak to an official to have their payment released. Surely, public administration in this country is better than this.

“Minister Doherty needs to act quickly and ensure that this unfairness on citizens who are ill is brought to an end. If additional staff are required, then bring them in,” concluded Senator Ardagh.