The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. has today (21st March) launched the Department’s redesigned website, www.welfare.ie, and published the Department’s Customer Charter and Action Plan.
Visits to the welfare.ie website have risen from 2.7 million in 2009 to almost 5 million in 2012. Currently, the website receives 85,000 visits a week. The website has been redesigned to more properly reflect the full range of services the Department now delivers, including Intreo, the new “one-stop shop” service for jobseekers. Under Intreo, jobseekers receive their income supports and individually-tailored employment supports in the one place for the first time.
Features of the redesigned website include:
- Improved navigation features for all users;
- Comprehensive information on the full range of supports and services provided by the Department of Social Protection
- A dedicated Intreo area - www.intreo.ie - through which employers and jobseekers can access information and services on supports, training and entitlements;
- A new Find a Job service, integrated with the Jobs Ireland site, which allows jobseekers to search for jobs, training and internships in every county;
- Links to many of the country’s recruitment agencies; and
- Application forms for schemes.
The website also allows for the reporting of suspected social welfare fraud. Last year, of the total of 28,000 anonymous and confidential reports received by the Department, 19,000 were submitted online. This compares to a total of 16,900 in 2011, of which 10,600 were submitted online. All reports are examined and where relevant, are referred for follow-up action.
Minister Burton said the redesign would enable the Department to provide an enhanced online service to its customers. “Delivering an efficient and effective customer service is a primary objective of the Department. Welfare must act as both a safety net and a springboard, providing income support to those who need it and helping people return to work. Customer-focused developments such as the redesign of the website, the introduction of the Intreo service and the establishment of the Employers Engagement Unit will all play major roles in that regard.”
The Customer Charter and Action Plan 2013-2015 sets out the Department’s commitment to improving its customer service over the next three years. Each week, nearly 1.5 million people receive a social welfare payment, and when qualified adults and children are included, almost 2.3 million people benefit from weekly payments. The Customer Charter and Action Plan outlines both the Department’s commitment to the highest quality of service, and the rights and responsibilities of Social Protection customers.
The Customer Charter and Action Plan was developed following extensive consultation with customers through surveys, customer panels and representative groups. It sets out how the Department will measure its performance against the service standards in the plan and commits to reporting on progress through its Annual Report. It also includes the contact channels for customers who wish to make a complaint.
Minister Burton said that the Department was determined to deliver a customer service that meets best international standards and maintains the public service values of openness, responsiveness, professionalism and good governance.
“The Customer Charter and Action Plan is a tangible expression of that commitment and will guide both the Department’s customers and staff. It builds on the progress achieved under previous strategies and will inform customers of the standards of service they can expect when dealing with my Department.”