Tánaiste officially opens Intreo Centre in Kilkenny


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Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. today (Thursday, 16 April 2015) officially opened the Department's Intreo Centre in Government Building, Hebron Road, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny.

The new Intreo Centre offers a one-stop shop where, for the first time, Kilkenny jobseekers can access income and employment supports in one place. The Centre already sees a total of 211 customers each week through the activation process, while a newly-established integrated decision unit will greatly improve the process of assessing customers' payment applications.

Speaking in Kilkenny Intreo Centre this afternoon, the Tánaiste said: "As Minister for Social Protection, I have focused on transforming the Department from a passive benefits provider to an active and engaged employment service, through the Pathways to Work strategy. Intreo is a central element of the strategy, and represents a transformative approach to helping people get back to work, providing not just income supports but employment supports too."

In addition to managing income and employment supports, Kilkenny Intreo Centre oversees a range of other supports for jobseekers living in Kilkenny and its environs, including 16 Community Employment Schemes, Tús, Gateway, Rural Social Scheme, Jobsplus, JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, the Work Placement Programme as well as the Back to Education and Back to Work schemes. There are over 1,441 people in Co. Kilkenny currently availing of these schemes.

"These programmes give jobseekers a pathway back to work by providing practical work experience, training or education. The proof that these approaches are working for people in County Kilkenny is in the Live Register figures, currently 5,864 people, a decrease of 12.7% on the same period last year," said the Tánaiste.

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 client 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, clients 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, clients 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 clients 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 clients had to wait at least three months before an appointment could be made with an employment services officer under the Employment Action Plan, and in some cases this appointment had to be triggered by the client themselves.

Now, under the new process, all clients must attend a group information 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 information session is designed to give clients 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. Clients 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 clients 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 clients 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 clients 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.
  • Clients 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:

  1. Job advertising and job-matching services (jobsireland.ie)
  2. An internship scheme - JobBridge (jobbridge.ie)
  3. Financial supports for recruiting long-term unemployed people – JobsPlus (jobsplus.ie)
  4. In-work supports to employees – Part-time Job Incentive scheme and Family Income Supplement
  5. WorkAbility services, including wage subsidies and grants, for employing people with a disability.

PRESS RELEASE ENDS

Last modified:16/04/2015