Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 09 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Community Welfare Officers.
Mr. G. Reynolds Mr. G. Reynolds
41. Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will outline his policy in relation to the role of community welfare officers; the reason they are not represented formerly in working groups examining their future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25052/00]
Mr. Spring Mr. Spring
49. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has any views on the recent submission by the IMPACT and SIPTU trade unions on behalf of community welfare officers and superintendent community welfare officers to the supplementary welfare allowance review group. [24945/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 49 together.
The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered on my Department's behalf by the community welfare service in the health  boards. The scheme is currently being reviewed as part of my Department's series of programme evaluations.
The review is being undertaken by an interdepartmental working group chaired by my Department and composed of representatives from my Department, the Departments of Finance and Health and Children and the health boards. The health board nominations were made by the chief executive officers. They are a general manager from the Eastern Regional Health Authority and a superintendent community welfare officer from the Mid-Western Health Board. Both have extensive experience in this area, having worked in the community welfare service for many years.
As Deputies will be aware, it is not normal practice to have unions represented on interdepartmental working groups that are undertaking reviews of this nature with a view to preparing policy proposals for consideration by Government. In the circumstances, a request from SIPTU and IMPACT to be represented on the working group was not granted.
Consultation with relevant organisations is an important feature of the reviews undertaken to date in my Department and the unions representing community welfare staff have been and will continue to be consulted by my officials during the entire course of the review. They are also being kept up to date on the progress of the review at regular meetings with my officials. The next such meeting is scheduled for 29 November.
As part of the consultation process for this review some 140 submissions have been received including a joint submission from SIPTU and IMPACT as the unions representing the community welfare staff and a number of separate submissions from individual community welfare officers and groups of community welfare officers. All of these submissions are considered important by the working group.
They will inform and contribute directly to the group's consideration of the future policy direction for the scheme.
The current review is a fundamental appraisal of the scheme aimed primarily at improving customer service and administrative efficiency. It also provides an opportunity to re-focus the scheme, and the health boards' community welfare service of which it is part, to become more effective in tackling poverty and social exclusion.
I expect that the proposals of the interdepartmental working group will be finalised by the end of next year and I do not consider that it would be appropriate for me to comment further on individual aspects of the submissions received, including the role of community welfare staff, while this review is ongoing.
Dáil Éireann 525 Written Answers. Community Welfare Officers.