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18-week wait for vital welfare cash

STRUGGLING families will be left waiting for several months for vital social welfare, it has emerged, writes Colm Kelpie.

The waiting time for the Family Income Supplement scheme stands at 18 weeks for a new application while families seeking to renew their payments will face a wait of 16 weeks.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment available to workers with children. It is designed to give extra financial support to people on low pay.

The figures were obtained by Roscommon South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten following a parliamentary question.

"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," he said.

The Department of Social Protection said there are currently 7,002 new FIS applications and 7,934 renewal applications awaiting approval.

A spokesman said: "An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently commenced for the FIS scheme. This project will focus on optimising output and customer service and the reduction of backlogs."

Irish Independent