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Minister defends ‘humanitarian’ payments following Limerick floods

Ministers Joan Burton, right, and Jan OSullivan speaking with Garda Lisa Griffin and Garda Paul Baynham. Picture: Brian Gavin/Press 22

Ministers Joan Burton, right, and Jan OSullivan speaking with Garda Lisa Griffin and Garda Paul Baynham. Picture: Brian Gavin/Press 22

 

THE Minister for Social Protection says she is concerned at reports that payments have been made to individuals whose homes were not affected by the recent flooding.

Minister Joan Burton made her comments at the weekend during a visit to King’s Island - parts of which were devastated by last week’s flooding, which was the worst in living memory.

Prior to her visit, a number of local residents expressed concerns thatseveral people have received payments through the department’s Humanitarian Assistance scheme.

Typically, payments under scheme range from €150 to €500 and are designed to address the urgent needs of those whose homes have been flooded. To date more than 250 people have made applications for payments under the scheme.

Minister Bruton says while the allegations are a concern, she is confident in the system which has been put in place to deal with claims.

“Essentially we have very experienced community welfare officers who are talking to people, taking details of their stories and in fact in the initial urgent payment stage, the amounts of payments are relatively small but we certainly make every effort to ensure that we target the money that we have at the people who need it most,” she said.

Jim Lynch, divisional manager with the Department of Social Welfare, says the vast majority of people who have claimed money since last week’s floods have been entitled to receive payments.

“We have a protocol in place where we are engaging with the local authority. The local authority are telling us the number of houses that are damaged, the actual location of those houses and the addresses of those house and then we can verify whether a person has been affected by the flooding or not.” he said.

“If people have not been affected [by the flooding] then they should not be receiving a payment. Now obviously in a situation like this where things are very busy you might get one or two that get through but we would say that that doesn’t happen,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, Minister Burton says private homeowners who don’t have insurance may be still entitled to some financial support from the Department subject to a means-test.

“Where people don’t have insurance, we help them on a humanitarian basis - even if in the normal sense they might not, for instance, qualify. Perhaps they might be working but if they are in work and they don’t have insurance then they would qualify as well for urgent humanitarian payments,” said Minister Burton.

 

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