Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has thanked the outgoing Discretionary Support Commissioner Walter Rader for his work in the role as his tenure comes to an end on August 31.
Mr Rader has held the post since Discretionary Support was introduced in 2016 to provide emergency financial support for people on low incomes who find themselves in extreme, exceptional or crisis situations.
A new Commissioner is being recruited to take up post from 1 September 2022.
Minister Hargey said,
"I would like to thank Walter for his work in the role as the first Discretionary Support Commissioner.
"An independent review of Discretionary Support has been carried out during his tenure and advice and guidance provided to staff via the Change Control Group which influences policy decisions and aims to improve the service for customers.
"I want to do more in supporting people in crisis situations and look forward to working with the newly-appointed Commissioner."
The Discretionary Support Commissioner is an independent statutory office holder appointed by the Department for Communities. The Commissioner leads a small team of Inspectors and is responsible for the delivery of an independent review service for people who have made a claim to Discretionary Support and are unhappy with the decision from the Department for Communities.
The Commissioner's role is:
- to monitor the quality of decisions of Discretionary Support Inspectors and provide advice and assistance to improve the standard of their decisions
- to arrange training of Discretionary Support Inspectors
- to carry out such other functions in connection with the work of Discretionary Support Inspectors as the Department may require
Mr Rader OBE DL MA Dip YCS said, "As Commissioner it is evident to me that Discretionary Support is making a vital contribution in support of the most vulnerable and those most in need across Northern Ireland.
"The Covid-19 pandemic had an enormous impact during this reporting period which necessitated several regulatory changes to enhance the entitlement and delivery of Discretionary Support to vulnerable claimants, which was both successful and positive."