Dáil Éireann - Volume 587 - 15 June, 2004
Written Answers. - Departmental Policy.
Mr. Howlin Mr. Howlin
609. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the name, number and commencement date of policy review groups with a public consultative process under way within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17864/04]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: Consultation with stakeholders is a key element of the policy making process within my Department in order to respond effectively to the needs of customers in the context of a changing economic and social environment. Such consultation and the development of participative structures where customers, representative organisations and stakeholders generally can express views, provide feedback on services delivered and input into policy making is necessary to ensure that income support programmes and associated supports continue to be relevant and effective. This is recognised in the Department’s statement of strategy.
In the last week a major public consultative process was commenced by the Department relating to the future financing of long-term care in Ireland, on which I launched a major report last year. In order to progress policy consideration and development in this area, the Department circulated a consultation document which aims to focus interested parties on the specific complex issues which need to addressed.
These issues, which are discussed at length in the report, include benefit design, delivery, cost and financing of long-term care in the future. The document has been circulated to over 70 interested parties including Government departments, health boards, interest groups and the social partners. These organisations and groups have been asked to consider a number of issues and to reply to the Department by 16 July.
Last year I undertook a major nationwide consultation process with families, organisations who work with families and public representatives to hear, first hand, their views on developments to  date and what they see as the priorities for strengthening family well-being. It is my priority to ensure that family in Ireland is fully taken into account in further developing policies and programmes to afford the widest possible protection and assistance to families and family life. My aim is to bring forward a strategy to achieve this objective before the end of this year. In doing so I will also take full account of the issues raised at the fora.
During the first half of 2003, my Department, in co-operation with the Combat Poverty Agency, undertook an extensive public consultation process to inform the development of our National Action Plan Against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2003-2005, NAPs/incl., which was submitted to the European Commission in July.
This consultation process built on feedback obtained from the social partners and the community and voluntary sector during a previous round of consultation relating to the revision of the national anti-poverty strategy in 2002.
The NAPs/incl. consultation process commenced with a social inclusion forum convened by the National Economic and Social Forum in January 2003 which was attended by individual members and representatives of the community and voluntary sectors. A wider consultation then followed in April and May. This involved a series of national and regional seminars and an invitation in the national newspapers for submissions. There was a wide-ranging response across the board, and some 65 written submissions were received.
Question No. 610 answered with Question No. 98.
Questions Nos. 611 and 612 answered with Question No. 76.
Dáil Éireann 587 Written Answers. Departmental Policy.