Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 09 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Appeals.
Mr. Curran Mr. Curran
37. Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Social  and Family Affairs the statistical breakdown in respect of each Health Service Executive area on the outcome of appeals to the designated officer for appeals in each Health Service Executive area regarding applications for social welfare rent supplement allowance that have been refused by a superintendent community welfare officer. [4507/06]
Mr. Curran Mr. Curran
53. Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, further to the social welfare rent supplement allowance, the reason decisions on appeals are not made as quickly as the decisions being appealed against. [4508/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 53 together.
The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, SWA, which includes rent supplement, is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, HSE. The purpose of the scheme is to provide short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. Neither I nor my Department has any function in relation to decisions on individual claims or in relation to decisions of the executive’s appeals officers.
Where a person is dissatisfied with the outcome of an application for rent supplement he or she may appeal against the decision to the appeals officer in the relevant HSE area. If the person is not satisfied with the decision of the HSE appeals office the person may further appeal the decision to the independent social welfare appeals office.
The HSE has supplied the following statistics on rent supplement appeals for the calendar year 2005; there were 549 rent supplement appeals allowed, 860 rent supplement appeals disallowed and 267 rent supplement appeals withdrawn in the HSE appeals offices. A breakdown of the rent supplement appeals by HSE area is shown in the tabular statement set out below.
The timescale for completing an appeal from the date of receipt to the communication of a determination is dependent, among other things, on the availability of the required information such as details of the applicant’s income, bank statements, information from landlords etc. The person who originally made the decision may be asked to review the case in the light of any additional information supplied in relation to the appeal.
In addition, some aspects of the appeals procedure are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where the grounds of appeal require further investigation such as home visits or third party evidence. Delays can also occur if an appellant is not in a position to proceed with an appeal or is slow to respond to requests for additional information.
 The provision of a prompt service is a major objective of any appeals office. This has to be achieved, however, in a manner that is consistent with the demands of natural justice and the need to ensure that every appeal is fully investigated. Accordingly, in certain cases the time taken to process an appeal of a rent supplement claim may take longer than the time taken to process the original decision.
The HSE has advised that, in general, the period for the completion of the rent supplement appeals process in the HSE is 21 to 28 days. However, cases of greater complexity may require a longer period.
Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 28.
Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 30.
Dáil Éireann 614 Written Answers. Social Welfare Appeals.