Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has called on the Minister for Social Protection to immediately move to fill key vacancies in local social welfare offices in Mullingar, Athlone and Longford.

Minister Joan Burton has confirmed to Deputy Troy that a total of eight positions are currently vacant, including two at Inspector-level and two of the posts have now been vacant for eight months.

Deputy Troy commented: “Minister Burton has been talking a lot about protecting frontline services and tackling fraud to ensure the government’s resources are going to those who need them most however these figures tell a very different story.  The Minister seems content to allow very senior and important positions at local social welfare offices to remain vacant for months and she has given no indication when or if they will be filled.

“I know many people who are experiencing long delays in having legitimate claims processed in Westmeath and Longford while the government just sits on its hands.  The Longford office is by far the most affected where there are five vacancies two of which are senior positions and one is an Inspector.  There is also a vacant position for an Inspector in Mullingar while Athlone has been missing a Staff Officer since last September.

“The government has set an ambitious target for fraud detection this year, savings of €645m.  This will only be achieved if the necessary inspectors are in place and the longer key administrative posts remain vacant the longer people will have to wait to have their legitimate claims processed.  This is not acceptable and I am calling on Minister Burton to immediately move to fill these positions.” 

 

Below is the Parliamentary Question and Reply referenced above.

 

Question No:  221                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ref No:  22794/12

 

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No 125 regarding local Social Welfare offices (details supplied) in County Westmeath if she will identify the positions that remain unfilled; the duration that they have been vacant; if she will give a definite time frame as to when these will be filled.

– Robert Troy.

Westmeath & Longford

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 8th May, 2012.

 

R E P L Y

Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D.):

 

The table below details the vacancies in the locations mentioned.

 

Location

Grade

Duration of vacancy

 

Mullingar Local Office

 

1 Higher Executive Officer

1 Executive Officer (Inspector)

 

1st March 2012 to date

1st March 2012 to date

 

Athlone Local Office

 

1 Staff Officer

 

September 2011 to date

 

Longford Local Office

 

1 Higher Executive Officer (Inspector)

1 Higher Executive Officer

1 Staff Officer

1 Clerical Officer

1 Clerical Officer

 

10th February 2012

1st March 2012 to date

1st March 2012 to date

September 2011 to date

1st March 2012 to date

 

As I recently advised the Deputy, the staffing needs of all offices in my Department are continuously reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising.  In this regard, it is not possible to give a definitive timeframe of when these specific vacancies will be filled.   I can however assure the Deputy that the Department will continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies by way of redeployment in line with the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, or transfer from within the Department and other Government Departments, taking account of the employment control framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.