- Homelessness charity Dublin Simon Community reports that the change in payments from weekly to fortnightly is causing enormous anxiety for families and single people who are struggling with money management
- The charity’s frontline staff are dealing with increased ‘binge’ behaviours amongst those living with drug and alcohol addiction
Dublin 26th June: A change to the frequency of social welfare allowance (SWA) payments as a result of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions is increasing anxiety and risk for the most vulnerable in society according to a leading homelessness charity.
Dublin Simon Community reports that the change from a weekly to a fortnightly payment, introduced on 30 March, is creating enormous hardship and is putting the lives of hundreds of its clients and their family members at risk because they are finding it difficult to manage receiving a larger payment less frequently.
One of the supports provided by the charity is assisting people with money management and budgeting skills as they transition out of homelessness, but frontline staff are reporting that this change in the payment schedule is now having a number of detrimental impacts on those engaging with the Dublin Simon Community.
The impacts include falling into arrears with rent and other bills; running out of money a week early; and mental health issues caused by the stress of trying to manage a different budget to the one that is familiar, with missed direct debit payments being highlighted as leading to bank charges and debt.
Staff in treatment services are reporting that a number of people are spending the increased payment on drugs and alcohol ‘binges’, thereby endangering both their health and their ability to buy food and other necessities during the two-week period.
Dublin Simon Community acknowledges that the change was introduced to limit risk around social distancing during payment collection, but it highlights that other fortnightly payments from the Department of Social Protection have reverted to a weekly schedule. Meanwhile, those on SWA, people recently made homeless and many on other contributions are still awaiting news on when those payments will revert back to weekly.
The charity has engaged with the Department of Social Protection on this matter and is urging that the Department reinstate the more frequent payment schedule. However, there is currently no clear date for a resumption of weekly payments.
CEO of Dublin Simon Community, Sam McGuinness, said: “For the people we work with a change like this can have a very real impact on how they keep a roof over their head and food on the table. For someone trying to work their way out of homelessness consistency in payment is vital.
“The implications of missing rent or a bill payment can really knock them off course. Our frontline staff have seen first-hand the devastating impact that this can have on people and families surviving week to week. We cannot let people who are already so disadvantaged come out of lockdown with even more problems to face than Covid already presents for all of us.”