Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (46)

Bernard J. Durkan


50 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if through redeployment or by way of transfer of staff from other Departments she will put in place measures to deal with the backlog in respect of applications for carer’s allowance, disability allowance, invalidity pension and or other payments which have been the subject of concern and hardship arising from delays with the processing of applications; if her attention has been drawn to the hardship and stress caused to applicants who have had to wait for the outcome of their application over such long periods sometimes without the benefit of supplementary welfare; if she expects an improvement in the situation in the short and medium term; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34934/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer's allowance, disability allowance and invalidity pension claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate action to resolve the situation.

There has been a significant increase in the number of new claims being received in all three schemes over the past 3-4 years. A major service delivery modernisation project has been undertaken to improve the efficiency of administration of the three scheme areas in question and to help to deal with the increased volumes. This involves the deployment of information technology solutions and associated business process re-organisation. Full deployment of the new system for invalidity pension and carer's allowance is now completed. In tandem with the full implementation of the new system, comprehensive business process improvement exercises are underway in both areas, the focus of which is to optimise performance and provide improved customer service. Full deployment of the new system in disability allowance section is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2012, following which a similar business process improvement exercise will be commenced.

However it is expected to be a number of months before the backlogs in the scheme areas in question are reduced to an acceptable level. In the meantime, temporary staff has been assigned to each of the areas and overtime working is being operated as appropriate.