Social Protection | Shortening of waiting times for social welfare payment applicants
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the waiting time for a decision in respect of applications for various social welfare payments has been shortened; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers, ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
The targets for each scheme are agreed by Management Board in consultation with the relevant scheme areas. In setting the individual scheme targets consideration is taken of the complexity of the schemes and the processes that are necessary to determine eligibility. As a result the processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria.
Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly in the case of illness-related schemes, can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments can also require more detailed investigations and interaction with the applicant, thereby lengthening the decision-making process. There are two key metrics which help determine the targets associated with each scheme, namely the average number of weeks to award and the percentage of claims awarded within the target timeframe. These metrics, alongside other factors such as staffing levels, potential changes to eligibility criteria or changes to business processes, are taken into account when accessing the feasibility of a revision to the target for a given scheme. The processing times are reviewed annually.
My Department understands the many pressures faced by customers and always seeks to ensure that claims are processed quickly and efficiently.
I am pleased to report that claim processing targets are currently being met for all schemes across the Disability and Caring Schemes. My department continues to ensure that customer service is maintained at a high level.
Processing times for all scheme areas at end of 2021 and 2022 are set out below;
|Scheme||Target set||Achieved||Average weeks to award|
|Contribution based Schemes||Dec-21||Dec-22||Dec-21||Dec-22|
|State Pension Contributory||90% by date of entitlement||98%||95%||5||6|
|Widow(er)’s Contributory Pension||90% in 6 weeks||96%||95%||1||1|
|Jobseeker’s Benefit||90% in 3 weeks||96%||96%||1||1|
|Maternity Benefit||90% by due date||82%||93%||6||6|
|Paternity Benefit||90% by commencement of leave||73%||94%||6||6|
|Parents Benefit||90% by commencement of leave||Not Available||86%||1||1|
|Illness Benefit||90% in 1 week||68%||95%||1||1|
|Carer’s Benefit||90% in 12 weeks||Not Available||Not Available||4||6|
|Invalidity Pension||90% in 10 weeks||91%||90%||8||8|
|Occupational Injury Benefit||90% in 1 week||64%||58%||1||1|
|Means tested Based Schemes|
|State Pension (Non-Contributory)||75% in 12 weeks||85%||87%||7||6|
|Jobseeker’s Allowance||90% in 6 weeks||98%||97%||1||1|
|One-Parent Family Payment||90% in 10 weeks||98%||96%||5||3|
|Working Family Payment||90% in 6 weeks||–||–||3||5|
|Supplementary Welfare Allowance||90% in 1 week||92%||85%||1||1|
|Disability Allowance||75% in 10 weeks||95%||83%||5||8|
|Carer’s Allowance||75% in 11 weeks||92%||87%||5||7|
|Child Benefit||90% in 4 weeks||80%||65%||2||2|
|Domiciliary Care Allowance||90% in 10 weeks||4%||98%||12||5|
|Household Benefits||90% in 4 weeks||100%||96%||1||1|
|Free Travel||90% in 2 weeks||98%||98%||2||3|
In recent years, my Department has introduced a wide range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximized.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the deputy.
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