Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (93)

Joan Collins


93. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will publish the waiting times for applications for social welfaree payments and the waiting times for arrears to be paid for each social welfare payment; her views on the waiting times in general; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56054/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer or those that require more detailed investigation and interaction with the customer can take longer to process.

As part of the Department’s programme of service delivery modernisation, a range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology, have been implemented in recent years. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximised.

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources. The Department will continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies by way of redeployment, or transfer from within the Department and other Government Departments, taking account of the Employment Control Framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Department’s website is currently being re-designed and the new site will incorporate the major expansion of the Department in recent times and reflect the significant changes in the organisation’s remit and responsibilities, particularly in the area of employment. The new site will also give the Department greater flexibility in the way in which it can provide information and services to its online customers. In this context, consideration will be given to publishing information on the Department’s claim load, processing times and other key performance indicators in an easily accessible format.

I wish to assure the Deputy that prompt processing of claims remains a priority for me.