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'Anomaly' sees Donegal farmers refused welfare 26.11.15

A TD says he has exposed an anomaly that has seen many part-time Donegal farmers refused Farm Assist or Jobseeker benefits.
Deputy Thomas Pringle raised the issue in the Dáil with Minister Joan Burton who has indicated a review will be carried out within her Department of Social Protection.
Deputy Pringle said the anomaly came to his attention when farmers in the county contacted him saying they were consistently refused welfare but were awarded payments on appeal.
“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," he said.
“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.
“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," he added.
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