Archive for November 24th, 2008


Adventures in Social Welfare

I got my first rent allowance cheque in the post this morning. This was surprisingly prompt as I only submitted the necessary documentation on Thursday. I must admit a high level of satisfaction with my community welfare officer and her possibly gay assistant. They seem to genuinely want to help people and get things sorted as quickly as possible with minimal fuss (much unlike the snotty, non-phone answering, “so t’is free money you be wantin'” attitude of the social welfare office).

This being said, applying for rent allowance is not an easy experience. In fact, so awkward and painful is it that I can say I truly earned the money. The application process involves getting the relevant form signed by Dublin City Council, who in turn make you fill out their own little booklet so I can be put on the housing list (a truly arbitary exercise as I clearly have a house). This booklet must be stamped at both the tax office and the social welfare office, and of course each party requires copies of IDs and various proof of addresses. Add to this the difficulties of getting my landlord’s signature as he was on holiday and getting an additional copy of my birth cert as the orginal had gone missing (true to Murphy’s law, it has since turned up). The birth cert issue is particularly annoying as the city council, after initially insisting I provide a copy, didn’t even bother looking at it in the end.

The most heartbreaking episode, however, occurred when I did all this and brought the completed form back to my community welfare officer. When she saw that my last job was as a hack she told me of her son and how he wants to become a journalist, and how she’s trying desperately to discourage him. “I’ve got so many journalists on my books it’s not funny,” she tells me.

No, it’s not.