Pringle Exposes Social Welfare Anomalies for Donegal Farmers
Deputy Pringle raised the issue in the Dáil with Minister Joan Burton who indicated a review will be carried out within her Department.
The anomalies came to the attention of the Deputy when part-time farmers across Donegal from Gleann Cholmcille to Donegal Town were consistently refused Farm Assist and Jobseekers’ Benefit but were awarded payments in the appeal process.
“Personally, I have dealt with 17 different appeals cases after part-time farmers came to me wondering why they were refused in the first place.
“All bar one have been upheld as the individual having an entitlement to Jobseekers or Farm Assist. That means something is clearly wrong in the Department but it is particularly worrying as Donegal has the second highest number of Farm Assist recipients in the country. This payment is very important for farmers here’ says Pringle.
“After dealing with each case, a pattern emerged and I realised these people were wrongly labelled as self-employed at first contact with their local office, even though they are not self-employed.
“I raised this with Minister Burton as an urgent matter and while she indicated that the policy has not changed, they are in the process of issuing guideline to Deciding Officers providing greater clarity in relation to who is entitled to Jobseekers’ and Farm Assist” says Pringle.
“While I welcome any review, I do feel that too many people have missed out on vital income supports because of this mislabelling. Most were awarded the payment upon appeal but some farmers were seriously struggling as a result.
“I wonder how many other farmers have been refused but are unaware they were affected by these anomalies” concludes Pringle.