Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times
52. To ask the Minister for Social Protection his plans to improve the decision timeframes on all core social protection payments made by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36039/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 58 together.
My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
Over €19 billion will be spent by my Department on its various income supports and other programmes in 2016.
Across the main social welfare schemes, last month my Department received over 38,000 applications for processing and cleared over 42,000. The number of applications awaiting decision and the average time to award for each main social welfare scheme is set out in the following table, which was provided to the Deputies earlier today.
The time taken by my Department to process applications depends on a number of factors, primarily the conditionality and relative complexity that applies to the relevant scheme. The quality and completeness of the application form and other material is also an important factor. The inclusion, at the outset, of any supporting documentation that is requested on the application form is key to a customer getting a timely and appropriate decision.
Long term schemes with medical or caring conditionality are relatively complex to decide upon and, consequently, take longer to process. When the number applying to any particular scheme increases significantly, it can put pressure on my Department’s capacity to process those claims in a timely manner.
Reducing waiting times is a priority for my Department and they are working hard to make this happen. For example, the processing time for carer’s allowance has dropped from 22 weeks in May 2016 to 14 weeks in September 2016 and continues to fall. As part of its programme of service delivery modernisation, a range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology, have been implemented by my Department in recent years. In addition, staffing needs are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
Table of Main DSP Schemes (arranged alphabetically) with Number of Applications awaiting decision and Average Weeks to Award
Awaiting Decision at end October
Average weeks to award
|Domiciliary care allowance|
|Family income supplement (new claims)|
|One-parent family payment|
|State pension contributory|
|State pension non-contributory|
|Widow/widower/surviving civil partner contributory pension|
|Widow/widower/surviving civil partner non-contributory pension|