The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. Currently the average time taken to award a carer's allowance application is 28 weeks.
I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer's allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking action to resolve the situation.
A major service delivery modernisation project is underway to improve the efficiency of administration of the carer's allowance scheme. This involves the deployment of information technology solutions and associated business process re-organisation. It is anticipated that the new system will introduce significant processing efficiencies and a quicker and more responsive service to the customers.
Significant internal resources have been invested in the development and rollout of thenew computer system over the past 18 months or so. Full deployment of the new system forcarer's allowance has just completed. In tandem with the full implementation of the newsystem, a comprehensive business process improvement exercise has recently commenced, the focus of which is to optimise performance and provide improved customer service. Howeverit is expected to be a number of months before the backlog is reduced to an acceptablelevel.