The Population Management Office is continuing to face significant challenges in processing applications made under the former housing control system, due to the complexities of the dual processes involved in dealing with part of the application under the old law and then converting the application to the 'best fit' alternative under the new law.
There are currently 671 outstanding applications made under the old law. In addition, since the new law came into effect there have been 391 employment-related and 422 non employment-related applications waiting processing.
Esther Ingrouille, Administrator of Population Management, said the team have been focusing on trying to clear the backlog of legacy applications, but a number of factors had made this a slower-than-expected process.
'It is not unusual at this time of year for us to have between 1,000 and 1,500 applications outstanding. But what is different to usual is the additional time it is taking us to process the old applications, which continues to have an impact on overall processing times.
The team continues to work really hard to process applications, but I think it's important to be open with the community about the challenges we're facing. We are having to process legacy applications made under a complicated housing control law, while converting them to fit into a new law designed for the modern era. We are also dealing with a much higher volume of phone and email queries, as employers and individual customers adjust to the new rules, and to submitting applications on-line.
The project to implement the new law is currently running under budget so, after careful consideration, we have decided it is in the best interests of our customers to use some of that unspent money to fund additional temporary staff to help us clear this backlog. We are now beginning to process applications made under the new law, alongside trying to clear the more challenging legacy applications.
From an IT perspective the new system is bedding in, and we continue to receive excellent support from our local provider. Moving from a law that was rooted in the 1940s to a new population management system was never going to be easy, but the process needed to convert each outstanding application made under the old law is complex, and of course each person's circumstances and residence history is unique to them, which all adds to this significant challenge.
I remain very grateful to the dedicated team in the Population Management Office who have worked incredibly hard under a lot of pressure and continue to do so. We will clear the legacy backlog, although at this stage I don't want to commit to a fixed timeframe for doing so. But we are also beginning to process applications made under the new law, and this should be a much more efficient process. We have issued temporary documents where needed and will continue to do so to make sure no one is disadvantaged by the delays.
I would like to again thank our customers for their understanding and patience and ask them to continue bearing with us if applications are taking longer than expected.'