Tánaiste officially opens two Intreo Centres in Cork City

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The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. attended the Department of Social Protection’s Intreo office at Abbey Court House, Georges Quay, in Cork City today (Friday, 4th December 2015) to carry out the official inauguration of the new twin Intreo Centres located there and at Hanover Street in the city.

The new Intreo Centre at Abbey Court House and the refitted Intreo Centre at Hanover Street will offer a "One Stop Shop"service to Department of Social Protection customers in Cork city. Residents living to the north of the river Lee will be serviced from Hanover Street Intreo Centre; those living south of the river can access social protection services through the Intreo Centre at Abbey Court House. The Live Register for these two offices stands at just over 13,000, with a claim load of in excess of 19,000.

Speaking at the official opening, the Tánaiste said: "Thanks to the recovery being driven by Government, we've made very significant progress in reducing unemployment, from a crisis peak of 15.1% to under 9% now. Here in Cork, the number of people out of work has fallen 12.5% from 33,344 to 29,178 over the last year alone.  Significant numbers of new jobs are being announced on a regular basis, such as Apple in Hollyhill and Voxpro in Blackrock. But we've more work to do, and my target is to ensure full employment - a job for everybody who wants a job. The new Intreo Centres will play an important role in that, because Intreo Centres provide support to jobseekers to help them back into work, training and education as well as income support.

"The introduction of the Intreo service in Cork City and Cork Central Division is a positive step in transforming the way income and employment supports are provided by the Department of Social Protection. Intreo has been a key element of the Government’s response to high unemployment and it supports the objectives set out in the Pathways to Work strategy to tackle unemployment.  It links the payment of income supports with the supports offered to people in their pursuit of work.

"Previously, Cork City residents were faced with up to 20 service delivery points across the city depending on the nature of the support required.  Now, the twin city Intreo Centres can service all requirements and, for most customers, all their interactions with the Department will take place in one office."

The type of jobseeker support provided by Intreo is customised to each person’s skills, experience and qualifications. A tailored progression plan is discussed and agreed between the jobseeker and their Case Officer.  

The service supports jobseekers in their own efforts to find work and helps them in deciding the training and development programmes they should undertake to maximise their access to opportunities. 

As part of their interaction with the Intreo service, each jobseeker is expected to engage fully with the services offered by the Department under an agreed ‘social contract’.  This ‘social contract’, the Tánaiste said, demonstrates a move from a passive approach to supporting jobseekers and compares favourably with best international practice.

Cork City was served for generations by a single social welfare office at Hanover Street, while Community Welfare supports were administered through the HSE, with employment supports largely routed through the former FÁS.  Since 2012, these three strands of service have been amalgamated under the Department of Social Protection. This resulted, in Cork City, in a situation where customers were faced with up to 20 alternative service delivery points around the city and near perimeter, depending on their specific needs. Today’s opening marks the completion of a significant process of restructuring in Cork City, meaning that all Department of Social Protection services will now be available via a "One Stop Shop"in each of the two city centre Intreo Centres. 

The staff in the Cork City Intreo Centres also work closely with partners in the Education and Training Board (ETB), Local Employment Service (LES), Partnership companies, Jobs Club and others to provide additional dedicated supports to individual jobseekers.

The new Intreo service will reduce waiting times for jobseeker payments, significantly improve customer service and offer modern, bright and comfortable office facilities for staff and customers of the Department alike.

The Tánaiste thanked the Divisional Manager and her staff.  "I want to pay special thanks to Maria Hurley, the Divisional Manager, and her entire staff who committed wholeheartedly to the office restructure.  I would also like to acknowledge the work that they do on behalf of the Department of Social Protection with our customers on a daily basis.  The work that you do with jobseekers is greatly assisted through the strength of your relationships with colleagues from the enterprise development agencies, the Education and Training Board and the local partnerships and development companies. I would like to acknowledge the collaborative approach that all of you bring in your everyday interactions and which provide an excellent public service. I believe that together you are making a meaningful difference to the lives of jobseekers and other customers of the Department living in Cork city and county."


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 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, 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 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 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:

  • 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:04/12/2015