The Department of Social Protection is establishing a new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES), as provided for in the Programme for Government. The objective is to integrate the provision of employment services and benefit payment services within the Department and in so doing to ensure that the payment of income supports to people who do not have a job is directly linked to the equally, if not more important, task of supporting such people in their pursuit of employment and related opportunities and improving their life chances. As part of this approach the Department is seeking to change its focus from the passive provision of transaction based services (claims processing and payments) to the active case management of clients. Under the case management model the Department will work with clients to prepare, execute and monitor a personal progression plan. This progression plan will have a number of elements, for example, an income support-plan, a skills/training development plan and an employment plan. Clients will be expected to engage with this approach and failure to engage will lead to a reduction or cessation of benefit payments.
The establishment of this new service is a necessary response to the current economic crisis and the unprecedented rise in unemployment with its far-reaching implications for workers, the economy and society in Ireland. The establishment of the service and the reconfiguration of employment and benefits services and resources is a vitally important element of the overall national plan for economic recovery and is critically important to the country’s future.
In this regard employment has proven to be a major factor for people exiting poverty and also influences quality of life and social well-being. Therefore, while social welfare income support remains crucial and must be adequate to meet needs, passive income support alone is not sufficient if poverty and social exclusion are to be comprehensively addressed and people are to have financial independence and reach their potential. This new service delivery model is aimed at increasing social and economic participation. In some cases, the successful outcome will be full-time employment without any further social welfare support. In other cases where people are quite distant from the labour market, activation measures will support people on social welfare payments taking up other progression options, such as training and education to enhance employability
In providing for the establishment of the NEES, the Programme for Government reiterates the requirement for the integration of FÁS employment services and community programmes and the HSE Community Welfare Services (CWS) into the Department. The establishment of the NEES is also a key commitment under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU/IMF/ECB.
The Programme for Government sets out the remit of the NEES in the following terms:
“We will replace FÁS with a new National Employment and Entitlements Service so that all employment and benefit support services will be integrated in a single delivery unit managed by the Department of Social Protection. This integrated service would provide a ‘one stop shop’ for people seeking to establish their benefit entitlements; looking for a job; and seeking advice about their training options…This service will offer users a higher level of personalised employment advice, with more frequent face-to-face interviews.”
The Department is already very well advanced with a number of initiatives that are facilitating the development of the NEES service. For example:
- c 1,000 staff from the Community Welfare Service (CWS) currently on secondment to the Department will become full staff members on 1 October 2011. Although much of the work of the CWS is concerned with income support it is provided on a personalised/quasi-case managed basis. We believe that we can automate and/or centrally process a significant proportion of the standard claim processing work and free-up the staff of the CWS to take on the role of NEES case management.
- We are currently in the process of arranging for the transfer of the Employment Services and Community Employment Service units from FÁS into the Department. – These units will bring with them their core capabilities in job-placement and advice.
- We have developed and are now at the pilot stage of implementing a new client profiling capability which will enable us to categorise clients in terms of their ‘distance’ from the labour market and will support us in developing customised interventions based on the client profile.
- We have developed and are also piloting a new case management tool to facilitate the scheduling of regular periodic ‘interventions’ with clients.
- In collaboration with FÁS we have revised and rolled out a new approach to engaging with clients on the three month anniversary of their entry onto the live register. This approach has been very successful in increasing the participation of clients in our activation programmes.
- FÁS and the Department have worked together, as one, to develop and launch the National Internship Scheme – JobBridge - the first manifestation of the NEES concept at work.
While each of these steps is a critical enabler of the NEES none of these on its own, nor all of these together, will be sufficient to deliver the full service as set out by the Government. In order to deliver the service it is essential that these steps be combined to form part of an integrated ‘whole’ - a new organisation built from DSP, FÁS and the CWS with a clear service mission, integrated service processes, and an effective operating model all focussed on the person in need of support. The task now is to specify and plan for the creation of this new organisation and to then follow through with implementation in consultation with all stakeholders, including clients and staff.
This document sets out the Department’s approach to this task. It is structured as follows:
Part 1: NEES Service Scope and Operating Model
Summary: A summary of the overall document
Chapter 1: Sets out the scope of the service to be provided by NEES and the operating model to be employed.
Part 2: NEES Project Plan
Chapters 2- 5: Set out the project plan as prepared in line with the Department’s standard project management methodology, covering issues such as key assumptions, risks and dependencies, project resourcing, project cost and project governance.
Part 3: NEES Project Schedules:
Provides the detailed project schedules (activities by timeline) in Gantt chart format.