Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (1245)

Eugene Murphy


1245. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting period for dealing with new applications for carer’s allowance; the waiting period for dealing with review cases of carer’s allowance; the number of staff allocated to dealing with new applications and review cases, respectively, in March 2018 and March 2019, in tabular form; the reason for the lengthy waiting period for review cases to be dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12910/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

However, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process.

To qualify for carer's allowance (CA), the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.

Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications.

In October 2018 staff were re-assigned to CA claims processing from within the Carers' area and from other areas of the Longford Centralised Schemes Office.  This has resulted in a reduction of 36% in the claims on hands and an improvement in the average waiting time for a decision on a new CA application to 15 weeks in February 2019 with 26.65 staff allocated.

I expect that processing times will continue to improve in the coming weeks as a result.

The progress achieved in reducing new claims on hands and improving average processing times will allow for a review of staff assignments in the Carer's area. A Business Process Improvement project is currently underway in that area to identify opportunities to implement improvements and efficiencies and determine the optimal staffing assignments in the area.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.