Written Answers - Redundancy Payments.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 707 No. 3

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  122.  Deputy Jimmy Deenihan  Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan   asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   when payment of statutory redundancy will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16838/10]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Dara Calleary): Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redun[501]dancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received a lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 14 April, 2010. This claim awaits processing. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from September 2009.

The impact on business of the severe economic circumstances currently pertaining has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the level of Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department. This has impacted significantly on the capacity to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge on the Redundancy side is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims in 2009 amounted to 77,001 which represents a threefold increase over the level of claims lodged in 2007 and earlier years. In 2007, claims received were of the order of 25,000.

Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for Redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community. Measures already taken in the Department in 2009 to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:

almost doubling the number of staff through reassignment to a current level of 52 full time equivalents;

prioritisation of the Department’s overtime budget towards staff in the both Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;

establishment of a special call handling facility in NERA to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses concerned about their payments.

Better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department’s website;

Engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities which those employers owe to the Revenue Commissioners.

The backlog and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels. However, improvements are evident. The number of claims processed and paid by the Redundancy Payments Section in 2009 amounted to 50,664, an increase of 70% over 2008. In the first quarter of 2010, my Department processed 21,122 claims — an increase of over 151% on the previous first quarter in 2009. Claims processed in the month of March 2010 was the highest ever achieved in the Section with 8,168 claims processed in the month. In the year to date, inroads have being made on the backlog of claims on hand, which reduced from 41,168 at the end January 2010 to 37,054 at the end of March 2010.

Responsibility for the payment of redundancy and insolvency payments is due to be transferred to the Department of Social Protection. The intention is to transfer by Government order, the payment functions arising under the Redundancy Payment and Insolvency Payment schemes. In transferring the functions between Departments, it is the intention that this will operate seamlessly and without any adverse impact on the service levels being experienced by individuals or the business community awaiting payment of redundancy claims.

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