Annual Report 2014 - Foreword from the Minister
The transformation of the Department of Social Protection into an active and engaged public employment service, focused on getting people back to work continued apace in 2014. There were a number of key developments towards achieving that goal, including the Government's appointment of Kevin Humphreys T.D. as Minister of State at the Department, with special responsibility for Employment, Community and Social Support. Minister Humphreys joined the Department in July 2014 and has been actively progressing the Department's strategies since then.
Together with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD, I was delighted to launch the Pathways to Work 2015 initiative, aimed at building on progress already made in getting jobseekers, in particular the long-term and youth unemployed, back to work. As part of this whole of Government strategy, employment and training is benchmarked at local, regional and national level, with the results published, to ensure performance against targets. Intreo Centres, providing integrated employment and income supports to jobseekers in the one place for the first time, will be assessed as part of this process, with performance statistics published for each centre. In addition, the strategy places a particular focus on employer engagement in 2015 to ensure that employers look to the Live Register when hiring.
During 2014, the Department maintained its commitments to young jobseekers. In January, the Government published its plan to implement the Youth Guarantee and the Ballymun Youth Guarantee (BYG) project, an EU funded pilot, was completed in December 2014. The model promoted an activation approach tailored to the needs of the young person to support them on a sustainable pathway to employment. The model was operational throughout 2014 and almost 700 young jobseekers engaged in the process. The findings of the pilot will be evaluated in 2015.
Throughout 2014, the Department continued to assist working families in meaningful ways. A crucial element of the Pathways to Work strategy is ensuring that work always pays, thereby preventing long-term dependency on welfare. Importantly, provision for the Family Income Supplement Scheme was increased in 2014, supporting the evidence that people are better off in work. Family Income Supplement acts as a stepping stone for recipients as they gain a firm foothold in work, ensuring they are better off in employment and supported to financial independence over time in order to build a better future for their families.
The enactment of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 in December better reflects the requirements of modern-day Ireland. It deals with the registration of significant "life events" such as births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths. In addition, the Act provides for the compulsory registration of a father's name on a birth certificate. This is the first time this principle has been introduced in legislation and it underpins the rights of the child under EU legislation to have access to the details of his or her identity. Ensuring full and accurate particulars are registered at the time of birth will be of significant benefit both to the child and future generations.
I wish to acknowledge and thank staff of the Department for their hard work and commitment in delivering a quality service in what was, yet again, a very demanding year. As 2015 brings a new set of challenges, I am confident that we will rise to meet these challenges and continue to deliver a quality social welfare service to those who depend on it.
Joan Burton T.D.
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection