PEOPLE who have lost their jobs are being forced to wait up to nine months to have redundancy claims dealt with by the government.

The Department of Enterprise has been inundated with applications, with more than 42,000 people currently on a waiting list to have their claim dealt with.

According to its figures, more than 45,000 people made redundancy claims last year with a total of €287m – or €6.5m per week – paid out of state coffers. The average payment was around €6,300, with some of the applicants getting just a few hundred euros.

The department said there had been an "unprecedented increase" in the number of applications, which began in late 2008 as the economic collapse started to bite.

It said the deluge had meant it "proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained".

The number of redundancy claims until November 2009 numbered 73,024, according to the department, an increase of 96% on the previous year."

The department said it had reassigned 27 staff from other areas to deal with redundancy payments, bringing the number of full-time staff allocated to 52.5.