Dáil Éireann - Volume 596 - 01 February, 2005
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Code.
Mr. Ring Mr. Ring
194. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his plans to alleviate the problem which has arisen for persons no longer able to sign on at Garda stations. [2371/05]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: Until recently, recipients of unemployment payments residing more than six miles, or 9.7 km, from their nearest social welfare local or branch office signed a declaration at their local Garda station for the purpose of proving unemployment. This service was instituted as a service to customers at a time when transport was less frequent and travel was more difficult than today. Since the end of November 2004, all customers who previously signed on at Garda stations are self-certifying and returning their signing dockets directly to the social welfare local or branch offices.
Revised signing arrangements will apply in the early part of 2005. Customers residing up to 16 km from their social welfare local or branch office will attend that office once every four weeks for certification purposes. Customers residing over 16 km from their local or branch office will self-certify every four weeks and attend the office every 12 weeks. These customers will be offered the flexibility to attend at the office on any day in a designated week. A flexible approach to cer tification will be adopted for customers on offshore islands and other remote areas of the country. The changes represent a significant improvement in customer service by enabling all unemployed customers to have direct contact with their social welfare local or branch office, where they can be directed to the many educational and work supports available to the unemployed.
To qualify for unemployment payment, a person must show that he or she is available for and genuinely seeking work. The Department of Social and Family Affairs normally expects unemployed customers to take up offers of employment within a reasonable distance of their residence and to travel there on a daily basis. A distance of 11 miles would not be considered excessive. In such circumstances it is not unreasonable to require a customer who is actively seeking work to travel to his social welfare local office for certification purposes once every 12 weeks. If customers have particular difficulties with the revised arrangements, officials in the local offices will be glad to consider them and to make whatever adjustments are considered appropriate.
Dáil Éireann 596 Written Answers. Social Welfare Code.