31 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Labour Party Social Protection Spokesperson Seán Sherlock TD (Cork East) has urged Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys to create a single portal to support family members when they have to engage with social protection and other public services after a loved one passes away, to avoid the necessity of having to notify multiple sections of her Department and other government agencies after a bereavement.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“When a loved one passes away, their family and next of kin suddenly find they have to engage with a range of public services. This can be an extremely difficult time for people and the State could help by streamlining the process for notifying public bodies of a death with a single point of contact.
“In the Department of Social Protection alone, there can be a range of sections that have to individually notified depending on payments that may be received, and also to register the death with the General Register Office.
“Having to engage in so many notifications of a death can cause unnecessary distress during what is a very trying time. In the UK they have a ‘Tell Us Once’ service that allows you report a death to most government organisations in one go
“I raised this issue with the Minister for Social Protection in the Dáil on Thursday, calling for the creation of a bereavement portal or ‘one stop shop’ that allow the next of kind to quickly notify all the particular sections relevant to the deceased, and it should also take into account other public services like the Department of Health, Revenue, or local authorities.
“There are, within the system, many sections of Social Protection and the Department of Health that people have to go through to put in order the affairs of persons who have received payments, in terms of notifications and all the other matters relevant to the State that have to be addressed after a death.
“I asked the Minister to sit down with her officials with a view to creating a one-stop shop for bereaved persons in order that when their loved ones pass away, there is as seamless a process as possible. The UK have managed to this, and it’s time we put a similar process in place.
“If there is a one-stop shop, it would help a lot of grieving families, particularly at this point in time when many people are losing loved ones but aren’t able to visit public offices in the way they once were.
“I do acknowledge the sympathetic and empathetic manner in which social welfare officials deal with people in that situation. In my experience, the engagement has been extremely positive and I want to acknowledge the officials’ role.”
“I do welcome that Minister Humphreys agreed to take on board the idea, and she confirmed that the General Registry Office plans a consultation on registration of deaths in order to make the process easier for people. I would now ask that a much broader process be put in place.”