County still reliant on state welfare

The number of people on the live register in Leitrim decreased slightly in 2011 compared to 2010, but the amount of people relying on benefit from the state is still quite severe.

The number of people on the live register in Leitrim decreased slightly in 2011 compared to 2010, but the amount of people relying on benefit from the state is still quite severe.

It is difficult to calculate how many individuals rely on state welfare in Co Leitrim as many of the benefits and allowances overlap – such as child benefit and back to school allowance, but according to last year’s report on welfare spending in Ireland, the people of Leitrim are very reliant on benefits from the state.

Although the figure on the live register for 2011 (3,477) decreased by about 200 from 2010, the numbers on illness benefit and disability allowances rose during the same time period.

Job seekers Allowance (2,349) was the largest form of state benefit being claimed for in the county but this was closely followed by the state pension (1,878 contib and 1,368 non contrib) with the numbers on the widow/widowers pension (988) also in the top welfare claims in Leitrim.

There were 535 families being supported as one parents families, while 377 farmers looked to Farm Assist to help them though 2011.

Over four thousand Leitrim families received child benefit and 1,374 local families received the Back to School Allowance, which helps with purchasing uniforms, school stationary and books last year.

733 people collected Disability Allowance, 637 received the Illness Benefit, while 398 were in receipt of the Invalidity Pension.

Almost 500 people availed of the Carer’s Allowance within the county last year.

Over a hundred self employed people took the opportunity to benefit from the Back to Work Scheme, and 179 grabbed a second chance to learn with the Back to Education Allowance.

At the end of 2011, weekly payments were made to over 1.4 million people and when qualified adults and children were included, over 2.2 million people benefited each week. The total expenditure by the Department in 2011 was almost €21 billion.

“Behind each and every one of these statistics is a real person or family. Delivering the Department’s services is not just about numbers but about affecting the daily lives and wellbeing of all our citizens particularly in these challenging times”, said the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD as she published her Department’s Annual Report 2011 and the 29th Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2011.

The Department’s headquarters offices are located in Buncrana, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo and Waterford.

The Department started a crackdown on welfare fraud earlier this year, targeting small businesses and services who could be benefiting from state welfare while also working. Those who believe they know someone committing welfare fraud can visit www.welfare.ie and fill out a form of they can contact their local welfare branch.