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Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton)

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Snippet Contents:

I propose to take Questions Nos. 662 and 663 together.
The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is the statutory body responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice (including money and budgeting advice) and advocacy services to members of the public on a wide range of public and social services.
One of the functions of the CIB, as defined in the Comhairle Act 2000 and the Citizens Information Act, 2007, is to support the provision of, or directly provide, advocacy services to individuals, in particular those with a disability to assist them in identifying and understanding their needs and options and in securing their entitlements to social services.
The Citizens Information Board delivers on its remit through the provision of advocacy services for the public in general and for people with disabilities in particular. This process has involved building advocacy capacity and skills in Citizens Information Services to deliver advocacy to all citizens including those with a disability who are able to access mainstream services.
The establishment of a Personal Advocacy Service was deferred by the previous Government in 2008 due to budgetary constraints. An evaluation report on the community and voluntary sector advocacy programme in 2009 set out a suggested new structure for the roll out of advocacy services and recommended the establishment of a single service to provide improved advocacy services to people who need them, regardless of location, disability type or level of vulnerability.
Following on from this report, the National Advocacy Service was established under the Citizens Information Board in January 2011, to provide an independent, confidential and free, representative advocacy service to vulnerable people with disabilities who cannot self- advocate, while supporting others to use mainstream services. The budget assigned to the National Advocacy Service in 2013 is €3.8m
During 2011 the service was established across the country. The service is managed by five Citizens Information Services in Dublin (Clondalkin), Westmeath, Offaly, Waterford and Leitrim and staffed by five managers, 35 advocates (full-time equivalents) and five administrators.
The aim of the National Advisory Service is to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are heard and their rights safeguarded. The Service has a particular remit for people with disabilities who cannot self-refer, who are isolated in the community, or living in residential institutions.
The National Advocacy Service has been in operation for almost two years and a review of all aspects of the service is currently underway. The review will be completed this year and I will then consider this is further detail.