Dáil Éireann - Volume 378 - 01 March, 1988
Written Answers. - Telephone Rental Allowance.
Mr. E. O'Keeffe Mr. E. O'Keeffe
41. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of pensioners who were awarded a free telephone rental allowance in 1987 and whose accounts have not yet been credited with this allowance; if his attention has been drawn to the inconvenience being caused to these people because of either the failure of his Department or An Bord Telecom to have these accounts credited; and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that many accounts are not credited for up to six months.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods) Michael J. Woods
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Every effort is made by my Department to process applications for this allowance as quickly as possible and as a general rule applications are decided within about two weeks unless additional evidence is required or local inquiries are necessary to verify circumstances.
Where applicants have already got telephone service, Telecom Éireann are notified of the award at the same time as the applicant so that the allowance may be credited to the next telephone account. Where applicants have not already got telephone service, Telecom Éireann are not in a position to accept notifications of the award of the allowance from my Department. This is on account of the fact that no account is initiated for telephone service by Telecom Éireann until the telephone is actually installed. In these cases, the pensioners are asked to notify my Department when the telephone is installed. My Department then notifies Telecom Éireann that the allowance has been awarded against the rental.
A total of 17,000 free telephone rental allowances were awarded in 1987, of which some 9,500 related to people who already had telephones installed and  7,500 to people who had not yet got telephones installed.
My Department has been in contact with Telecom Éireann regarding the problem and it is understood that Bord Telecom have approximately 8,000 notifications from my Department on hand at present. They have, however, given assurances that additional resources are being devoted to clearing the backlog as soon as possible. An Bord Telecom also expressed its regret for the inconvenience to pensioners and stated that if the pensioners concerned inform the local Telecom Éireann office that they have been granted the rental allowance, then the due adjustment will be made on the accounts. It is understood that this is occurring in most cases at present.
Pensioners who have been granted the free telephone rental allowance will not lose as a result of the delay in crediting their accounts: they will receive full credit for all rental allowance when their accounts are being credited.
Dáil Éireann 378 Written Answers. Telephone Rental Allowance.