Appeals Office - Annual Report 2004
To The Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mr Séamus Brennan TD.
De réir na forálacha de Alt 254(1) den Acht Leasa Shóisialaigh (Comhdhlúthú), 1993, cuirim isteach tuarascáil na hOifige Achomhairc Leasa Shóisialaigh do 2004.
In accordance with the provisions of Section 254(1) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993, I submit the report of the Social Welfare Appeals Office for 2004.
Chief Appeals Officer
The Appeals Office seeks to provide all those who use its services with an experience that respects their rights and their dignity. It aims to offer a service that is fair, friendly, accessible, and above all, professional with a particular emphasis on natural justice.
Appeals are determined as quickly a possible but by their very nature they cannot be rushed in a way that undermines the principles of fair procedure. Each appeal is unique. Each category of appeal type has its own requirements. For these reasons citing an average appeal clearance time is not particularly helpful. However, we constantly strive to reduce processing times.
What we most emphatically guarantee is that each and every appeal will be determined in a manner that is completely free from all undue influence. The Social Welfare Appeals Office operates as an independent entity and strives to ensure that appellants receive decisions that are not compromised in the slightest way by any inappropriate consideration. While those who win their appeals will likely be happier with their experience of our system than those who don't, we hope that the latter will at least be able to accept the integrity of our approach.
This report sets out our relevant statistics for 2004 and shows a trend that is consistent with recent years. The number of appeals lodged is down on the previous year but progress in further reducing the number on hands at the end of year is marginal due to staff changes. It is hoped to make further progress in 2005.
Currently a new Appeals Office website is being constructed. It is proposed to publish a good cross-section of case studies on the site. This will allow interested parties gain access to many more decisions than is currently possible in the context of an annual report (in which we are only able to publish a relatively small number of cases).
For the first time this report is being published in bi-lingual form. I am pleased to welcome this important development.
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