New One-Stop Shop offers Employment and Income Supports
The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, visited County Westmeath today (Monday, 27th January, 2014) where she officially opened the Athlone Intreo Centre at Grace Park Road.
Intreo is the Department of Social Protection’s transformative approach to helping people get back to work, offering an integrated employment and support service.
The Athlone Intreo Centre will provide a one-stop shop for jobseekers where they can get their income supports and employment supports in the one place for the first time. Intreo is a key element of the Government's Pathways to Work strategy to tackle unemployment.
Minister Burton said: "The introduction of Intreo in Athlone is a positive step in transforming the way income and employment supports are provided. It is a key element of the Government’s response to the employment crisis and 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.”
“The type of support provided by Intreo is customised to each person’s skills, experience and qualifications. A tailored progression plan is planned 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 service, each jobseeker is expected to engage fully with the services offered by the Department under an agreed ‘social contract’. This ‘social contract’ demonstrates a move from a passive approach to supporting jobseekers and compares favourably with best international practice.”
The Minister said that the Department of Social Protection will, in addition to basic welfare payments, spend over €1 billion this year on work, training, education places and related supports nationwide. There are currently 21 Community Employment schemes underway in Westmeath, of which 7 are based in Athlone and the surrounding area, with 140 placements supported within the community. There are 140 places available on the TÚS scheme in County Westmeath for jobseekers. Since the introduction of JobBridge 445 jobseekers have completed an internship in County Westmeath and a further 151 people are currently participating in the programme locally.
The Minister also invited employers in County Westmeath to avail of the services of the Intreo Centre in Athlone. She said: "The Department of Social Protection offers a wide range of supports for employers, such as JobsPlus, the wage subsidy scheme where the State pays approximately €1 in €4 of the typical cost of hiring someone who has been on the Live Register for 12 months or more. The Intreo Centre is also there to assist employers in finding recruits."
With the introduction of Intreo in Athlone, information on all services provided by the Department of Social Protection is available in one location. The integrated decisions unit is resulting in a more efficient and prompt decisions service on social welfare claims. Through the recent introduction of activation services, there is more frequent and regular contact with jobseekers in advising and enabling them to find work, education or training most suitable to their needs. In addition, people can register at the Centre for a Public Services Card. Currently, over 100 invitations issue to customers to attend the Intreo centre in Athlone to register each week.
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 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 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 subsides and grants, for employing people with a disability.