Newly unemployed to be fast-tracked
Written by Colin Bartley
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
The Social Welfare office in Galway is one of 19 offices where a new 'fast tracking' of unemployment assistance applications is to be implemented. The process will see applicants dealing with just one staff member, who will then record, register and decide on claims in a single sitting.
The system has been successfully trialled in Dundalk, but its implementation nationwide has been delayed because of a row between the Department of Social Welfare and the Civil and Public Services Union.
Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin said the changes will significantly reduce the current processing time of three to six weeks and would result in shorter dole queues.
This process has become necessary, as the surge in people requiring unemployment assistance has surged in the past 12 months, resulting in massive backlogs in claims. In some offices nationwide, there have been reports of people waiting up to three months to have a claim cleared.
At present, the government says there is a wait of between three to six weeks for applications to be processed; the new fast tracking system will see applicants getting benefit within days.
This is just the first expansion of the programme by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, which plans to further extend it to other local social welfare offices over the coming months.