Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (88)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl


88. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she intends to tackle the backlog of family income supplement applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56038/12]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The 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.

An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently been completed for the FIS scheme. This project focused on optimising output, improving customer service and the elimination of backlogs. Part of the project was a detailed examination of workloads and a full assessment of existing capacity within the area and what capacity is needed in order to process the volumes of claims, both new and renewal, being received on a weekly basis

The outcome of this review is a detailed plan outlining the process required to manage both the continuous weekly intake and backlog claims clearance. This plan sees the current weekly intake of new and renewal claims processed by one team as they are received since the start of November, while the backlog is ring-fenced and a focused team assigned to this work with a clear plan for its elimination.

This team which included additional temporary resources is currently working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlog, some of these claims are being processed outside of Longford Social Welfare Services Office. This team is fully focussed on the elimination of the backlog of claims in the shortest possible timeframe, concentrating in the first instance on those claims which were previously in payment but where payment has expired and continuing on to first-time new claims. Within those categories, those waiting the longest will be processed first.

It is intended that the backlog will be fully eliminated by the end of March 2013. Claims which are approved by the backlog team will be backdated to the date of claim or the date of expiry of the previous claim, as appropriate, and all arrears due will be paid.