Call for social welfare entitlements to be more ‘accessible’ to migrants

Social care agency says it could not help 1000 people due to ‘over demand’ for their services

People entitled to social welfare support in Ireland, particularly migrants, do not receive it due to inadequate service from Government officials, according to Crosscare, an agency of Dublin's Catholic archdiocese.

This morning. the agency disclosed “over 700 people” who presented to its information and advocacy services at Sackville Place in the city centre this past year “had no income of any kind available to them. Many were entitled to social welfare support, but poor information and service from staff in Government departments saw them lose out and face homelessness.”

Crosscare Information and Advocacy Services (CIAS) is based at Sackville Place, just off O’Connell St, in Dublin city centre.

It includes three elements brought together in February 2013.


These are Housing and Welfare Information, the Migrant Project, and the Refugee Service, which provide services from a ‘one stop shop’ centre at Sackville Place.

CIAS published its first annual report this morning. It said the centre was witnessing “large numbers of people in vulnerable situations who did not get their social protection rights from local social welfare offices. When Crosscare information officers intervene there is often a different outcome.”

Ciara McGrath, project leader with Crosscare Housing and Welfare Information said, “the proper use of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in particular could help keep people out of destitution and homelessness” but “the scheme needs to be administered with a spirit of protection of the vulnerable not a spirit of protection of budgets.”

It was the case that “clearly people with no income are extremely vulnerable to homelessness. Unfortunately we are dealing with people who have presented to local social welfare offices and local authorities with no income and walk away no better off,” she said.

She continued that "while we have had good engagement with the Department of Social Protection around the problems our clients encounter in their Department over the last two years this is not resulting in change on the ground. It is vital that our social protection mechanisms are less defensive, more user-friendly and to be accessible and navigable by the people who need them most." Last year 5,000 people sought help from the CIAS centre "many in dire circumstances."

It was were unable to assist 1,000 due to “over demand for our services,” but made 12,000 interventions of behalf of those they did help.

The predominant issue they helped with was social welfare at 30 per cent, followed by immigration status at 25 per cent, 19 per cent who were at risk of homelessness, 14 per cent who had no income and 12 per cent who were homeless.

A majority of the people CIAS assists are migrants, about 90 per cent of whom were born outside Ireland.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times