Yesterday I did an interview with RTE on the unacceptable backlog in processing Family Income Supplement (FIS) payments within the Department of Social Protection, which you can view here. The FIS is a weekly payment which aims to supplement the income of low paid working parents; however families in low income employment are currently facing a wait of a staggering 18 weeks for new application for Family Income Supplement (FIS) to be processed, while families seeking to renew their FIS will face a wait of 12 weeks. This is simply not good enough.
The Family Income Supplement is effectively a top up payment designed to assist families in getting off the dole by taking up low income work. However, due to the current delays, if someone were to take up a qualifying job and apply for the FIS today, they will not get a decision this side of Christmas. Not only will this have an enormous impact on the families involved, but it also represents a significant failing on the part of the government when looked at in terms of their policies towards low and middle income households.
On one hand the Government they are encouraging those on the dole to find work, but when they do they are faced with this bureaucratic barrier of the Government’s making. Really, it is no wonder that we have employers saying they cannot find anyone to fill certain posts when we have delays such as these in the processing of a vital supplemental support. While staff processing the claims are doing their utmost to deal with claims in a sensitive and expeditious manner, the fact is that the rules governing the scheme is outdated and this is in part, at least, leading to some of the delay. The other of course is as a result of the downturn in the economy and the cut to pay packets. And this is not just in the private sector.
On a far more frequent basis I have public sector workers successfully applying for FIS. And it’s not just those on the lowest pay levels but teachers and technical grade staff, with years of service, applying and having their application approved under the scheme. It is abundantly clear that not only do we need to increase the number of staff processing these applications addressed to deal with the backlog of some 15,000 cases but we also need to look at the cost of living in Ireland which is forcing many more families into very difficult financial situations.
The fact of the matter is these delays are leaving vulnerable working families under increasing financial pressure and facing an uncertain future. The families affected are not asking for special treatment or extra protection, instead they have shown huge dedication by enter the workforce at this time only to be let down by the Departmental bureaucracy.
Check out and see if you or anyone you know is entitled to Family Income Supplement:
You may be eligible if your assessable earnings and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s assessable earnings are under the following limits:- (Assessable earnings are gross pay minus tax, employee PRSI, Universal Social Charge, Public Service Pension Levy and superannuation.)
|If you have:||And your weekly family income is less than:|