Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. today (Monday, 15 September 2014) officially opened the Department’s new Intreo Centre in Anne Street, Wexford. Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, T.D. and Minister of State, Paul Kehoe, T.D. also attended the event.
The new Intreo Centre offers a one-stop shop where, for the first time, Wexford jobseekers can access income and employment supports in one place. The Centre already sees a total of 205 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 Wexford Intreo Centre this morning, Minister Burton 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.
“Intreo Centres provide a wide range of services for employers, assisting them find recruits, and advising them of innovative employer-friendly schemes, such as JobsPlus. Under this scheme, the Department pays approximately €1 in every €4 of the typical cost of hiring a person who has been on the Live Register for over a year. Since it was launched in July last year, over 2,000 employers have availed of JobsPlus giving employment to over 2,700 jobseekers, some of whom were unemployed for at least 12 months and others for two years or more.
“I would urge all employers in the South East region to contact the Department, and discuss what we can do for you as an employer, in helping you find the right person for the vacancy in your business.”
The Tánaiste also spoke of the forthcoming Jobs Week, which takes place from 29th September to 3rd October and is organised by the Department of Social Protection. A series of events will take place during the week, including in Co. Wexford, to promote current vacancies available to jobseekers and employment supports to employers: “I would encourage all businesses and employers to identify one action you can take to become involved in making Jobs Week a success in your area.”
Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, added: “I am delighted with the new Intreo offices here in Wexford town. The Centre will be a vital resource in equipping local jobseekers with the tools to access the training, work experience and job opportunities that best suit them. Local employers will find a new and enhanced level of engagement and assistance by Intreo staff, in helping them to find suitable recruits from the Live Register for vacancies in their businesses.”
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.