1.5 million received €21bn in benefits
ALMOST 1.5 million people received social welfare payments totalling €20.7bn last year, as Social Protection Minister Joan Burton insisted her office is not a "passive benefits provider".
In 2012, two million applications for social welfare benefits were processed, 87 million payments were made and over 154,000 PPS numbers were issued to people from more than 180 countries.
Launching her department's annual report, Ms Burton said the figures show the impact its work is having on the lives of almost every person in the State.
"But the department is no longer focused just on income supports. Social welfare must be both a safety net and a springboard," she insisted.
"Since taking office, my focus has been on transforming the department from the passive benefits provider of old to one that actively engages with jobseekers to help them back to work."
Ms Burton said the JobBridge internship scheme made significant progress in 2012, and that by the end of the year 13,232 internships had begun.
An independent evaluation of the scheme, carried out by Indecon, previously found 61pc of those who completed internships went on to find paid employment.
"The 61pc progression rate is one of the best outcomes for such a scheme anywhere in Europe where progression rates for similar schemes average just 34pc," said Ms Burton.