Money lenders bonanza as working poor forced to wait until April 2013 for decision
According to Roscommon/South Leitrim TD, Denis Naughten, low income working families who applied as far back as last June are being told that they may have to wait until April 2013 for a decision on their the Family Income Supplement (FIS) application.
“In the last 10 days I have been inundated with complaints from struggling families throughout the Country who are relying on the approval of their social welfare top up payment, to meet Christmas bills”.
“In one instance a constituent with a young family applied on 15th July last for family income supplement and was told that the application will be processed before April 2013, this is just not good enough” said Denis Naughten.
“Stories such as this show the sheer desperation of low income working families who were relying on these payments before Christmas, and who will now be left waiting for a payment until 2013, that they need to meet every day bills, including fuel bills to get to work in the first place”
“The Department of Social Protection has decided to shelve all applications received before the 5th of November, and only deal with renewal applications submitted in the last 5 months after they have processed applications/renewals submitted since the 5th of November.”
Denis Naughten described the decision as “nothing more than a money lenders charter”, especially for the 8,000 families who had their payment suspended, pending an annual review, up to 5 months ago. These families are left with the stark choice of giving up work to access full social welfare payments or forced to access funds pending the payment of 6/8 months arrears, at interest rates of 180% to 300% from both licensed and unlicensed money lenders.
Deputy Naughten explained; “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 who applied up to last month is being informed by Department officials that their application will not even be looked at until 2013, at the earliest. That’s over 6 months for some families.
“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,” he continued.
“On one hand the Government say 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 own making. Really, it is no wonder that we have employers saying they cannot find anyone to fill certain posts when we have such delays in the processing of a vital supplemental support payments, to help people make it pay to go to work”.
“The frustrating thing for staff processing the claims is that they are doing their utmost to deal with applications in a sensitive and expeditious manner, but the rules governing the scheme and the lack of adequate staff resource issues need to be urgently addressed to deal with the backlog of some 15,000 cases.”
Over the last 2 years delays in processing new applications has steadily increased to its present 4.5 month delay, but in the last year the delay in processing renewal applications (each application must be renewed annually) has shot up from 9 weeks to the present delay of 5 months.
“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.”
Are you entitled to FIS?
Weekly income limits for FIS applicants.
Children: income is less than:
One child €506
Two children €602
Three children €703
Four children €824
Five children €950
Six children €1,066
Seven children €1,202
Eight children €1,298