Social Protection | Easing the requirements for exceptional needs’ payments
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider easing the requirements for qualification for exceptional needs’ payments, with particular reference to ongoing, unforeseen challenges affecting individuals and families; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, my Department may make Additional Needs Payments (ANPs) to help meet expenses that a person cannot pay from their weekly income. This is an overarching term used to refer to Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments, and certain Supplements to assist with ongoing or recurring costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources, and which are deemed to be necessary.
In 2022, the Community Welfare Service awarded 97,224 ANPs at a total value of over €58 million, which shows just how responsive the service is to our clients.
The scheme is demand led and payments are made at the discretion of the Designated Persons (DP) administering the scheme considering the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case. The customer must provide personal, financial, household and other information in support of their claim to determine eligibility and to establish a ‘need’ arising. The ANP does not however cover non-essential household or personal expenses, or costs that are the responsibility of another government department or agency.
This important support is not restricted to those already on a social welfare payment and may also be available to those working on a low income.
Each application is considered on its own merit and payments are awarded at the discretion of the DP having considered the nature and extent of the need. The DP also considers the ability of the client to meet the need from their own resources and/or those living within the household. The DP takes into account the income/means of the client, their weekly household income, savings and investments as well as outgoings.
Any person who is experiencing financial difficulty can apply for an ANP by completing a SWA1 form, which is available in all Intreo Centres and Branch Offices. It can also be requested by calling the National Community Welfare Service freephone line at 0818 60 70 80 or via the Request an Application Form page on www.gov.ie.
I trust this clarifies the matter.
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