Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection officially opens Intreo Centres in Swords and Balbriggan

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The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. officially opened two new Intreo Centres - in Swords and Balbriggan today (Wednesday, 6 January 2016).  There are now 58 Intreo Centres open nationwide.

The Intreo Centre in Swords will offer a "One Stop Shop" service to Department of Social Protection customers living in Swords, Donabate, Portrane, Oldtown, Rolestown, Ballyboughal and parts of Kinsealy and Waterside.  Residents living in Balbriggan, Rush, Lusk, Skerries in North County Dublin and Gormanston and Stamullen in County Meath will be serviced from the Intreo Centre located at Gallen's Mill in Balbriggan.  The Live Register for these two offices stands at just over 6,600, with a claim load in excess of 10,000.

Speaking at the opening of the latest Intreo Centres, the Tánaiste said that her focus was on transforming the Local Offices of the Department of Social Protection into Intreo Centres or dedicated public employment services: "The Department of Social Protection was traditionally seen as the place where a person got their unemployment or dole if they were out of work, and nothing more.  I was determined to change that.  Through the Pathways to Work strategy, my focus has been on transforming the local offices of the Department into centres which offer dedicated employment services and concentrate on helping jobseekers to upskill and gain training and ultimately a job.  

"Equally, Intreo has introduced a new link between the Department of Social Protection and employers.  Officials in the job activation area of the Department work closely with local employers in sourcing staff for vacancies in their businesses. On that, I want to acknowledge the co-operation of the local employers in providing placements for jobseekers and giving them an opportunity to gain work experience, which is the starting point for many young people in their career path. 
"The central premise of the Pathways to Work strategy is simple - ensure that as many newly created jobs in the economy as possible go to the people on the Live Register.  The central premise of the Intreo service is to ensure that jobseekers are equipped with the skills necessary to take on these jobs.  Just yesterday, the CSO published its latest unemployment figures which show unemployment is at its lowest level in seven years. Unemployment fell in December by 700 to 190,600, or 8.8%, down from a rate of 10.2% in December 2014.  In particular, I welcome the fall in youth unemployment which is 19.2%, down from 26% two years ago. While this is still too high, it shows we are making progress.   In terms of helping jobseekers to get back into employment, the Department of Social Protection will spend more than €1 billion this year on work training and education places along with related supports. 

Almost 3,000 Social Welfare customers living in Swords are currently availing of a range of welfare supports and services.  This is a fall of almost 2,000 since mid-2012 which in essence means two out of five people are now no longer dependent on welfare to support themselves and their families.

The Intreo service in Balbriggan has a number of local employers availing of employment support schemes such as JobsPlus and JobBridge.  A number of testimonials which highlighted the success of the employment supports were heard at the official opening today.  In relation to JobBridge alone, of the 176 jobseekers in North Dublin who finished their placement in 2015, 69% are currently in work. 

The Tánaiste acknowledged the work of the staff working in Swords and Balbriggan.  "I wish to acknowledge the work of the staff working in Swords and Balbriggan who, under the stewardship of Siobhán Lawlor, Divisional Manager for North County Dublin provide a sterling service on behalf of the Department.  I wish you continued success in your work.


Note for Editors

The Intreo process consists of five main elements:

An integrated 'one-stop-shop' reception service: This replaces the three previously separate services from FÁS, the Department of Social Protection and the Community Welfare Service (HSE). In practice, this means that the customer receives complete information on a more timely basis in one location, and that all follow-on appointments can be scheduled at the same time.

A single decisions process: Previously, customers submitting claims for social welfare payments might have had to wait some time for their claim to be awarded as details of their employment status and income were assessed. While awaiting this payment, customers were entitled, by submitting a separate claim to the Community Welfare Service, to an emergency Supplementary Welfare Allowance payment.  The new Intreo process significantly reduces the time taken to decide a claim and those customers who might still require a supplementary payment can have this decision made as part of the single process rather than having to submit a separate claim.  As part of the decisions process, a personal profile (known as PEX) is captured for each individual and this profile informs the approach taken at the next stage in the process – activation.

An integrated activation/employment service process: Previously customers had to wait at least three months before an appointment could be made with an employment services officer, and in some cases this appointment had to be triggered by the client themselves.

Now, under the new process, all customers must attend a group engagement session – typically within a week or two of registering for jobseekers' payments. Depending on their personal profile, they are subsequently scheduled for follow-on one-to-one meetings with an experienced employment services officer.

The group engagement session is designed to give customers basic information on their entitlements and the services that are available to them in order to help them return to work. Each client is given a fact sheet in preparation for and in advance of the one-to-one meeting.

At the one-to-one meeting, the employment services officer/case worker will go into greater detail as to the employment and training supports available and help the client to prepare a Personal Progression Plan (PPP).

Follow-up meetings are then scheduled to monitor progress against the plan and to adjust it, as circumstances dictate. Customers may also be contacted in the periods between one-to-one meetings to check if the client is following the actions agreed under the PPP.

Ultimately customers who, despite the assistance of their case officer cannot make progress on the pathway into employment/further education, may be directed to, and required to, take up a place on a State employment or training scheme.

Social Contract – Rights and Responsibilities: This contract underpins the Intreo approach.
It is a record of the commitments being made by the Intreo service and also of the commitments expected of customers who avail of that service. In other words, a social contract to ensure that all parties understand that with rights to supports from the Department come responsibilities to engage with those services.  The commitments expected of customers are that they will:

  • Co-operate with the Intreo service in developing a Personal Progression Plan.
  • Use this plan to strive to secure employment.
  • Attend all meetings requested by the Department.
  • Provide all information requested by the Department.
  • Customers who register for the service will be expected to sign and honour this Record of Mutual Commitments.
  • Failure to honour this commitment can lead to a reduction in, and ultimately a cessation of, payments.

Employer Engagement: The Department already offers a suite of services that can assist employers in recruiting staff from the Live Register. These include: -

  • Job advertising and job-matching services (jobsireland.ie)
  • An internship scheme - JobBridge (JobBridge.ie)
  • Financial supports for recruiting long-term unemployed people – JobsPlus (JobsPlus.ie)
  • In-work supports to employees – Part-time Job Incentive scheme and Family Income Supplement
  • WorkAbility services, including wage subsidies and grants, for employing people with a disability.
Last modified:06/01/2016