Fórsa has said its members working in the Department of Social Protection’s illness benefit section are experiencing significant difficulties with a new IT platform designed to process claims.
The union said the new IT system is unfit for purpose, and that this is causing problems for claimants. A large number of claimants have suffered serious delays with benefit payments.
Fórsa national secretary Derek Mullen said the change from arrears to real-time payments has caused significant difficulties, which have been exacerbated by the issues with the new computer system. He called for an urgent review of IT systems, including the over-reliance on consultants in social protection and other civil service departments and agencies.
“Staff are making huge efforts to get people paid using a system which just can’t cope with the demands. As a result, they’re suffering the brunt of customer dissatisfaction, despite the fact that they are not responsible for the problems that have developed,” he said.
In negotiations this week the union sought a reversal of the new payment policy and identified priority fixes for the IT system and special measures to deal with backlogs that have developed. The union pledged to continue to work closely with the department to ensure that whatever measures are necessary will be implemented as a matter of urgency.
The union has also told the department’s secretary general that staff in illness benefit need the full support of their management. “As well as apologies to the public, there should also be a very clear apology to the staff who were not to blame for the current crisis,” said Derek.