Low-income working families who apply for Family Income Supplement from this month onwards will not have their applications processed by Christmas.

The backlog in the Department of Social Protection is such that 7,000 new applicants are waiting on average four and a half months for their applications to be processed.

Another 8,000 people who are already on the scheme, but who have to reapply annually, will have to wait four months for approval.

The information was sought by Independent TD Denis Naughten, who said the department should not be putting up barriers to the low paid, who are dependent on the supplement and trying to stay in employment.

The Department of Social Protection said that an “in-depth business process improvement project” has recently begun with regard to the Family Income Supplement.

They added that this will focus on “optimising output and customer service and the reduction of backlogs”.

Low paid employees with families can apply to the Department for the supplement, where their income is below a certain threshold.

For example, a family with one child must earn less than €506 a week.

Around 7,000 new applicants are waiting on average 18 weeks for their applications to be processed and there are 7,934 renewal applicants waiting on average 16 weeks.