Dáil Éireann - Volume 627 - 14 November, 2006
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Information.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on a national advertising campaign to promote greater awareness of social welfare entitlements, similar to the campaign now being run by the Revenue Commissioners to promote greater awareness of tax allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37614/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: The objective of my Department’s information policy is to ensure that all citizens are made aware of their rights and entitlements and that they are kept informed of changes and improvements in schemes and services as they occur. The provision of information in a clear and accessible manner is an essential element in achieving this objective.
My Department takes a pro-active approach in advertising its schemes and services, by using an appropriate mix of national and provincial media, information leaflets, fact sheets, posters, direct mailshots, advertising on television screens in over 60 Credit Unions nationwide and the distribution of information booklets to health centres throughout the country. Selective use is made of LoCall and Freephone services to provide information on new schemes and services at particular times of the year.
In addition, national advertising campaigns are undertaken periodically to promote greater awareness of a specific scheme or to highlight changes in schemes and services. Three such campaigns have been undertaken to date in 2006 as follows:
In March, my Department undertook a nationwide awareness campaign to promote and encourage take up of the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme. An extensive week-long campaign included advertising on television, on national and local radio and in national and regional newspapers.
In August, the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance was advertised in national and regional newspapers.
During the last week of September, an information campaign was conducted on television, on national and local radio and in national and regional newspapers to raise public awareness of the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Respite Care Grant, schemes designed to provide supports for carers.
A LoCall helpline was provided for all three campaigns. In addition to the LoCall number, the campaigns also highlight other sources of information available to the public, including my Department’s network of Social Welfare Local  Offices, Citizens Information Centres and my Department’s website. The response to the campaigns have been encouraging and resulted in increases in the number of applications received for these schemes.
In view of the range of services available from my Department it would not be possible to highlight all of them in a single advertising campaign. Therefore, nationwide advertising campaigns are designed to highlight specific schemes and services. Targeted advertising campaigns focusing on specific schemes and services will continue to be a key priority for me in the drive to ensure that citizens are aware of and claim their social welfare entitlements.
Dáil Éireann 627 Written Answers. Social Welfare Information.