Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has warned that the government is failing people who need emergency social welfare payments, amid severe delays.

Teachta Crowe was responding to new information from the Department of Social Protection that shows 95% of emergency payment applications to the Department are taking between 5 and 8 weeks to process.

Teachta Crowe said:

“The current processing times for what are supposed to be emergency payments from the Department of Social Protection are frightening. A staggering 95% of emergency payment applications to the Department are taking between 5 and 8 weeks to process.

“The idea that a person in an emergency situation seeking urgent financial assistance is left waiting up to two months for a decision is unacceptable and will force many families at severe risk of poverty and potentially into the clutches of unregulated and unscrupulous moneylenders

“The Additional Needs Payment has been heavily promoted by government representatives in recent months with people in difficulty being urged to apply for the payment. The public have been assured that the support is there for them through this payment and that they should apply if they are struggling.

“In the middle of a severe cost of living crisis, it is shameful of any government to promote a payment to workers and families who are struggling as a safety net for them, without having the resources in place to ensure that the very obvious demand is met and met in a timely fashion.

“Sinn Féin’s Social Protection spokesperson Claire Kerrane TD had asked Minister Heather Humphreys months ago to put the payment application online allowing people the option to apply and upload the necessary documentation. The party was assured the suggestion was being examined by Department officials months ago, however nothing has happened.

“The demand for this payment is only going to rise across the state. Minister Humphreys must intervene and take immediate action to do whatever is necessary to get the processing times down. She should put the payment online as another option for people and she needs to return Community Welfare Officers to the community so they can be easily accessed by those who are most in need of support. Additional staff for processing applications are also clearly needed.

“Workers and families are facing a severe cost of living crisis and are struggling to keep on top of their bills. Of course, the government cannot do everything, but they can do much more than they currently are. The government must ensure that people who are struggling get the crucial supports that they clearly need in this cost of living crisis.”