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    Citizens should not have fallen victim to problems in DG

    © Belga
    Zuhal Demir is seeking to ensure that the issues suffered by service users of the Directorate General (DG) for Disabled Persons, in 2017, do not recur.
    © Belga

    It is unacceptable for citizens to suffer the consequences of operational issues within the Directorate General (DG) for Disabled Persons. Such people are dependent upon the federal government. The view was stated on Tuesday by the department for the Secretary of State for Persons with Disabilities, Zuhal Demir.

    The DG particularly has a role in respect of benefits for those with a disability.

    When presenting his annual report, the Federal Ombudsman mentioned on Monday that the number of complaints about the DG had increased by 150% within a year, to 580. The upsurge here was, in particular, linked to the service inaccessibility. Hence, and taking account of numerous delays, persons with a disability have often had to wait months before having a benefit increased after undergoing a medical examination, or before they were granted the so-called social rate for energy prices. Moreover, the social rate price is not granted retroactively, a point which the Ombudsman believes to be unacceptable.

    The Secretary of State’s department says that 2017 was a particularly difficult year for the operation of the DG, following changes to the software program used. Around forty additional employees then had to be hired to overcome these delays. Ms Demir explained, “We have come far over the period. At the beginning of 2017, owing to the problems, no service user calls could be taken. We are now responding to a thousand telephone calls on a daily basis.”

    The Secretary of State will now investigate, together with the Directorate General and the Federal Ombudsman, how they can meet the recommendations published in the report. Ms Demir went on, “It is unacceptable that the citizen has suffered the consequences of problems experienced by public services.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times