Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. today (Friday, 29th January, 2016) officially open the Department’s Intreo Centre in Blackhall Street, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
The new Intreo Service in Mullingar is now delivered from two locations in the town, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for jobseekers to get income and employment supports will be provided from Blackhall Street, while Community Services and Community Welfare Services are among the services to be provided from the office in Bellview. Previously, the Department’s customers had to access services at four different locations in the town, which was inconvenient for the Department’s customers and put greater pressure on processing times for applications.
The supports now being provided through Intreo will be customised to each customer’s individual skills, experience and qualifications. A tailored progression plan is planned and agreed between the jobseeker and their Case Officer. This plan helps jobseekers in deciding the training and development programmes they should pursue to maximise their access to job opportunities.
Speaking at the official opening, the Tánaiste said: “In terms of helping jobseekers to get back into employment, the Department of Social Protection will spend more than €1 billion this year on work, training and education places and related supports. Over 400 people in Mullingar are currently availing of these supports through the Back to Education Allowance and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, that helps them move into self-employment. Across the County of Westmeath over 858 people are availing of the Tús, Rural Social Scheme, JobBridge and Community Employment Schemes. These programmes give jobseekers a pathway back to work by providing practical work experience, training or education. As a result of people availing of these supports the Live Register for Mullingar and Castlepollard has fallen considerably, and now stands at 4,934 people, a decrease of over 7.6% on the same period last year.”
The Intreo Centre in Mullingar also offers a range of supports for employers such as JobsPlus, the wage subsidy scheme where the Department contributes to the cost of hiring someone who has been on the Live Register for 12 months or more.
The Tánaiste noted: “JobsPlus is now supporting 136 jobs with 92 employers in Co. Westmeath. Participating employers have seen the potential of the scheme to help them expand their businesses, and realised the calibre of people on the Live Register. The majority of these jobs have been filled by people who have been unemployed for two years or more.
“I would urge all employers in Co. Westmeath to contact the Intreo Centre in Mullingar, 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 thanked all those who have played a large part in the development of this Intreo Centre, including Des Henry and his 57 staff members in Mullingar who committed wholeheartedly to the new Intreo Centre, the Office of Public Works, the main contractors Noel Cunningham Construction (Bellview) and TH Contractors (Blackhall Street), sub-contractors as well as the Department of Social Protection staff who oversaw the project.
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 customer 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, customers 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, customers 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 customers 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 customers 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 customers 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 customers 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. Customers 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 customers 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 customers 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 customers 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.
- Customers 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.