Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has said that the process of applying for many social welfare payments is both cumbersome and convoluted and must be reformed to be citizen friendly.

Deputy O’Dea made his comments on foot of information he received by way of parliamentary question which revealed that, as of the end of September 2018, 57.4% of social welfare appeals resulted in a favourable outcome.

“This is an issue that comes up time and time again in constituency offices and is causing a great deal of distress to people. With 57% of appeals resulting in favourable outcome, it’s clear that at initial application stage, the process is not clear, and guidelines are not being adhered to appropriately.

“We need to look at the root causes of why people, in the first instance, are being denied a social welfare payment and then being awarded a payment on appeal.

“To start with, Minister Doherty must review the application process and administrative journey, including the accompanying forms and ensure that they are as straightforward as possible. By stripping away the bureaucracy, in as feasible way as possible, it would make the application process less complicated and more transparent.

“The overly bureaucratic and cumbersome social welfare system is having a knock on effect in terms of waiting times for decisions. Many citizens are waiting in excess of six months for a decision on their appeal. As of the end of September, the average waiting time for a summary decision is 25 weeks whilst it is 30 weeks in cases where there is an oral hearing.

“This is unfair on the claimant, as many will end up being awarded their payment. The system needs to be stripped back to ensure that eligible claimants get their payments as quickly as possible. The stress of waiting for a decision is unjust.

“Minister Doherty must listen to reason and adopt a common sense approach. I am calling on her to review and examine the application processes in her Department and reduce the stress and worry that many citizens experience as they apply for support from the State,” concluded O’Dea.