CIB publishes Annual Report 2014 and Strategic Plan 2015-2018
Social welfare queries continue to outnumber all other categories while health and housing queries continue to increase.
In 2014 the combined range of CIB-funded services across the country dealt with more than three-quarters of a million people. For the Citizens Information Service, social welfare related queries continued to outnumber other categories at 45%. Many of these queries related to jobseeker’s payments and payments for families. The main government information portal - citizensinformation.ie had over 15 million visits and an average of over 748,000 unique visitors per month. The Citizens Information Phone Service (CIPS) 0761 07 4000 answered over 150,000 queries. While the total number of calls was down 7.5% on the previous year, the average call length increased by the same amount due to the more complex nature of the calls received.
The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) continued to provide essential supports and advice for those in debt and struggling with mortgage arrears. In 2014 the Mortgage Arrears Helpline became part of the service offered by MABS (0761 07 2000) with the MABS Helpline receiving 21,349 calls. A new protocol was agreed with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) to help people manage their debt repayments in a way they could afford. A dedicated MABS Case Management System team was established to provide more in-depth data collection and analysis. During the year the Approved Intermediary Service held over 900 appointments with debtors and 251 Debt Relief Notices were granted by the courts.
The Citizens Information Board continued to make its information more accessible with a re-design of citizensinformation.ie to make it fully responsive to mobile devices. CIB and 97 of its delivery services received the EFQM Gold Star Service Excellence Quality Award for customer service in 2014.
Other highlights for 2014 included:
- Over 1,000 people were supported by the National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities.
- Over 3,700 social policy returns were made by information providers, highlighting the queries and concerns of people using public services.
- The keepingyourhome.ie website, aimed at people worried about mortgage repayments or who are in mortgage arrears, recorded more than 133,233 visits.
- The Citizens Information Board provided training courses to over 1,000 information providers nationwide and the first Advanced Diploma in Money Advice Practice was awarded to 22 money advisors by the University of Ulster.
- National Traveller MABS completed an organisational review in preparation for implementing their strategic plan and delivered the Way of Life training programme to MABS companies.
- Over 100,000 leaflets, factsheets and wallcharts were published and distributed.
- Assistireland.ie the online assistive technology database provided by the Citizens Information Board received 440,000 visitors and carried information on 7,000 aids and appliances for people with disabilities
- The Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) the national agency for the provision of sign language interpreting services in Ireland facilitated over 1,500 bookings and referrals.
CIB have also published a new Citizens First themed Strategic Plan 2015-18. The overall objective is to provide relevant, consistent and timely services to citizens through effective high quality delivery at local and national level. Over the life of the plan CIB wish to achieve a better understanding of the needs of citizens and to be responsive to those needs.