Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 24 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

  50. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the interim report of the review of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme has been completed and received by her Department; the progress being made in this review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19505/02]

  Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): The supplementary welfare allowance, SWA, scheme is administered on my Department's behalf by the community welfare service in the health boards. The scheme is currently being reviewed by an interdepartmental working group chaired by my Department, as part of my Department's series of expenditure reviews.

  The current review is a fundamental appraisal of the scheme aimed primarily at improving customer service and administrative efficiency. All aspects of the scheme are being examined. The review also provides an opportunity to address the role of the health boards' community welfare service generally in tackling poverty and social exclusion.

  A wide consultation process was undertaken which resulted in 145 submissions being received by the group. Progress in this review has been slower than anticipated due mainly to the number and nature of the issues raised. In view of that, the working group proposed earlier this year to draw up an interim report. Work on that has not yet commenced, however, but will be re-examined early next year when I expect that sufficient progress will have been made to enable the production of an interim report.