For Written Answer on : 06/12/2022
Question Number(s): 347 Question Reference(s): 60321/22
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the reason that citizens information outreach programmes have ceased; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is a statutory agency tasked with providing information, advocacy, and advice to citizens. These important services are delivered by eight independent regional Citizen Information Service (CIS) companies, that operate a national network of Citizens Information Centres.
It is important to note that, by law, the CIB is charged with independently overseeing the delivery of services under its remit. Similarly, each CIS is an independent limited company governed by a voluntary board of directors. These eight CIS companies make decisions independently on the delivery of services in their own regions.
Any operational changes or decisions are therefore a matter for CIB and the independent boards. As Minister, I cannot direct them regarding operational decisions.
CIB has confirmed that, while there has been a reduction in the number of outreach services compared to pre-COVID-19 figures, the provision of outreach services has not ceased. Currently, five outreach locations are served and CIS management and Boards continue to review the viability of outreach services. In doing so, they consider available resources and public demand across each region to ensure those most in need of services are provided for.
In some cases, the support of volunteers is necessary to operate outreach clinics without impacting the core service offer. Volunteers are continuing to return to the service post-Covid-19, but numbers are still lower than previously. CIB has commissioned an independent review of the programme of volunteering in CIS with a view to finding the best way to re-engage them in the service. It is expected that the review will be concluded in December and its recommendations will directly inform CIB’s new three-year strategy 2023-2025.
The priority for CIB is that the service provided to the public is of the highest quality and is available and targeted at those who need it most.