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Written Answers - Social Welfare Offices

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 312.  Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy  asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the large increase in the number using the local social welfare offices and the reduction in the public service numbers, if she has engaged with An Post and IPU with regard to the possibility of An Post offering services currently available at the local social welfare office such as signing on. [16593/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its clients and continuously strives to achieve the highest standard of customer service possible. In order to adapt to the large increase in the volume of claims in recent years, the Department has embarked on a major programme of process redesign and modernisation including the deployment of new computer systems. Arrangements have also been made to augment Departmental resources and to increase the staff numbers available to process claims.

As regards signing, the Department has developed a facility which captures a client’s signature on an electronic signature pad and it is planned to use this facility as part of the future certification process for fully unemployed clients. This introduces greater flexibility to the certification process as it means that the client can sign on at any counter in the office whereas they have been restricted to one particular counter point in the past. Offices will be able to respond immediately if a queue begins to form by opening and closing counters, as required, to deal with the volumes on hand. This will enable offices to reduce queuing times and provide a higher quality of customer service. The facility is operational in a number of offices at present and will be rolled out, on a phased basis, to other offices during this year.

[830]In addition, in order to offer a more streamlined, efficient and integrated service to clients, the Department is undergoing a process of intensive planning and organisational change in establishing the new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES). The new NEES model will integrate all employment and benefit support services in a single delivery unit and will provide a coherent integrated and more personalised service to customers. It will also serve to eliminate the duplication of work that characterised services which were provided separately in the past.

There are currently no plans to outsource any portion of the work involved in managing jobseekers claims to An Post.

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