Research and Social Policy Reports
The Citizens Information Board publishes policy reports on current and topical social policy issues and on the effectiveness of current social policy and services. These reports highlight relevant policy and administrative difficulties that have been brought to our attention through the social policy feedback data from our frontline services. We also commission and publish research to identify policy issues impacting on service users and to support targeted service interventions and policy responses.
A Review of Older People’s Capacity to Access Financial Services Online
This report looks at the experience of older people in County Wicklow in accessing financial services online, such as banking, paying utility bills and shopping. The report - A Review of Older People’s Capacity to Access Financial Services Online and to Independently Conduct their own Financial Affairs – was undertaken by South Leinster Citizens Information Service (in association with Co Wicklow Older People’s Council and South Leinster MABS) and was grant aided by the Citizens Information Board Social Policy Grants Scheme. The report highlights the everyday barriers which prevent some older people from leading financially independent lives and presents a series of recommendations for action, in light of the increasing move to the online provision of services. The project actively engaged older people in researching the report, using focus groups and a survey facilitated by the partnership with the Co Wicklow Older People’s Council.A Review of Older People’s Capacity to Access Financial Services Online
The Right Home: the Housing Needs of People with Disabilities
This joint CIB/DFI report identifies the specific accommodation difficulties experienced by people with different types of disabilities and analyses the experiences of people with disabilities and those of the disability and advocacy organisations that support them, in accessing appropriate accommodation. It compares the experiences of those consulted with the commitments made in the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016 (extended to 2021), related Local Authority Strategic Plans for Housing People with a Disability and social housing policy generally. It informs a policy action agenda with particular reference to the implementation of the new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027.The Right Home: the Housing Needs of People with Disabilities
Equality of Access to Information and Services Enhances Personal Power
This report looks at the experience of prisoners in accessing information and assistance from outside State services and other vital services – with matters such as banking, housing, social welfare, travel and immigration. It was commissioned by South Leinster Citizens Information Service and was funded by the CIB Social Policy Grant Scheme.
The report was borne out of the two decades of in-reach service provided by South Leinster CIS (delivered weekly, in-person by staff from County Laois CIS) to the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise. This free, confidential service provides information, advice, assistance and advocacy to all members of the prisoner community in the Midlands Prison who wish to avail of the service.
The report sets out the human rights framework that protects the rights of prisoners as citizens to have equal access to information and public services, and the responsibilities of duty-bearers to fulfil those rights. It also identifies the difficulties and barriers that prisoners encounter when trying to access information and assistance from State services and aims to give a voice to the prisoner community on their experience of these barriers and challenges.Equality of Access to Information and Services Enhances Personal Power
Renting and Risk: an analysis of the vulnerabilities of renting
This joint CIB/ Threshold report uses data from Citizens Information Services and Threshold to examine the barriers experienced by people in accessing and retaining suitable and affordable housing. The report has a particular focus on tenants who are relying on the private rented sector for social housing. With the current housing market characterised by under-supply and declining affordability, this research draws on housing queries recorded by CISs and Threshold over a two year period to explore the circumstances of renters seeking advice. The report found that lack of security of tenure and affordability were the top concerns, with tenancy termination the most prevalent issues facing private renters and that vulnerable clients on fixed incomes were most likely to be adversely impacted. In addition, the issue of rent increases ranked highly for renters of all ages and backgrounds.Renting and Risk: an analysis of the vulnerabilities of renting.
The Information Needs of Migrants
This report profiles the information needs of migrants who use the national network of Citizens Information Services (CISs) and considers the implications of this for the information, advice and advocacy services that are supported by CIB. The research has a particular focus on those migrants who are in more vulnerable circumstances - due to a combination of legal status and individual, family and socio-economic factors and who have sought advice and assistance. The report also documents the experiences and perceptions of information providers in assisting migrants and locates these within the broader policy environment. The report is particularly relevant in the context of the more recent experience of CISs in providing information and advice to Ukrainian refugees seeking assistance through the government supported information hubs and other outreach initiatives.Meeting the Information Needs of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations: A Citizens Information Perspective
This report sets out to examine the extent and nature of digital exclusion among users of public services in Ireland and to identify how this problem can be addressed, based on the experiences of information, advice and advocacy services, funded and supported by CIB. The research was initiated prior to the advent of the Covid19 pandemic and relates to the impact on CIS clients of the increasing move to online access of public services. The report acknowledges the certain benefits of digital technology in supporting public service delivery. It goes on to look at the evidence from CISs in their policy feedback to CIB which suggests that a significant number of people who are seeking assistance in CISs are encountering barriers in accessing public services online. The report outlines a range considerations in developing policy and associated actions for the continued promotion of digital inclusion and egovernment.
Employment Rights that Work for All: A Citizens Information Perspective
A social policy report that profiles employment rights queries to Citizens Information Services and includes a focus on issues which emerged during the Covid-19 crisis. The report examines the area of employment rights, based on the queries, social policy issues, and advocacy cases over a three year period. The trend over recent years is for an increase in the complexity of employment related concerns. Almost 70,000 queries to services were employment rights-related in 2019 with a 20% increase in social policy employment related issues over the last three years. The main themes explored in the analysis are issues relating to terms of employment, leaving work and changing jobs; and enforcement and redress.
Accessibility of online services to older people in Co. Wicklow
This study investigates the accessibility of online social, financial and public services to older people in Co. Wicklow. It was commissioned by the South Leinster CIS / Wicklow Area in partnership with Co. Wicklowâs Older Persons Council and funded by the CIB. Dr Marita OâBrien researched and compiled the report. The research explores older peopleâs engagement with online services, barriers to accessibility and measures to ensure inclusion. It makes a number of recommendations for making online services accessible to older people including enforcing in practice the right to be an âoff-linerâ; providing digital skills training, and addressing affordability and security and safety issues where online tasks are delegated to a proxy, family member or friend.
Accommodating Ethnicity: Addressing Energy Poverty Among Travellers Living in Mobile Homes and Trailers: (2019)
A National Traveller MABS study on the extent of energy poverty experienced by Travellers living in mobile homes and trailers. The study was undertaken by Dr Stuart Stamp in collaboration with National Traveller MABS, Ballyfermot MABS and a number of Traveller organisations. The studies key findings relate to rates of energy poverty, conditions of mobiles/trailers, health and safety concerns and poverty and financial exclusion among Travellers.
Information provision and access to public and social services for the Deaf Community (2018)
This independent study commissioned by CIB focuses on the experiences of the Deaf Community in accessing public and social services and related information on rights and entitlements in Ireland. The research is both timely and relevant in the context of the recent passing of the Irish Sign Language Act which gives state recognition to the indigenous language of the Deaf Community. Members of the Deaf Community have faced severe difficulties in accessing public information in their preferred language which impacts on the realisation of their rights. The report considers the current provisions by public agencies for meeting the needs of the Deaf Community and identifies the main issues in developing more accessible services.
Over 50% of MABS clients go without heat in Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard area according to new report - Left Behind in the Cold? (2018)
This fuel poverty research report ‘Left Behind in the Cold?’ was commissioned by Dublin 10 & 20 Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) which serves the areas of Ballyfermot, Palmerstown, Cherry Orchard and Chapelizod. It is a follow up study on previous research undertaken in 2013. It found that despite national economic recovery, the level of fuel poverty amongst clients of Dublin 10 & 20 MABS remains at unacceptably high levels. The report also highlights heightened levels of fuel poverty amongst Travellers living in mobile homes/trailer accommodation. It found that Travellers surveyed spend 21% of their income on fuel costs. People spending more than 10% of their income on fuel are deemed to be in fuel poverty.
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) The experience of Citizens Information Services (2017)
This study, commissioned by the CIB and undertaken by researchers Dr. Kathy Walsh and Brian Harvey, reflects the experiences of our services in providing information, advice and advocacy in relation to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme within the wider social housing context. The research is in line with CIB's remit to provide policy feedback and highlight issues that are of concern to users of the services it supports.
While HAP is a valuable housing initiative which helps to address the housing needs of those in low income employment as well as those reliant on social welfare, there are concerns regarding the shortage of available suitable private rented accommodation in some areas and issues related to security of tenure. These and other matters are highlighted in this study which documents the experience of the citizens information network in assisting people in accessing the scheme over the course of its rollout nationally.
Mortgage Arrears Among South Mayo Clients (2017)
A follow up report looking at mortgage arrears among South Mayo MABS clients which looks in detail at the personal situations of those at the centre of the mortgage arrears crisis . South Mayo MABS conducted both reports in association with Dr. Stuart Stamp, Maynooth University and Paul Joyce BL, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).
Making an Impact- The Public Value of Citizens Information Services in Ireland (2017)
Research on evaluating the impact CIS have using a public service value framework. The research was commissioned by the CIS Development Managers Network and carried out by Dr. Nat O'Connor, Institute for Research in Social Sciences, Ulster University. It documents the wide range of services provided by CISs and the economic and social value of this work to the public. It also shows the importance of CISs in dealing with people who can access online information or who need a face-to-face service offering advice and advocacy in relation to increasingly complex issues. Over 600,000 people are served by CISs annually with services operating from over 200 locations.
An Analysis of Mortgage Arrears Among South Mayo MABS Clients - A Spatial Dimension to a National Problem? (2016)
A study on the nature of mortgage arrears among clients, how clients mortgage arrears are being treated and recommendations for change has been published by South Mayo MABS. The study conducted by South Mayo MABS in partnership with Dr. Stuart Stamp suggests that there is a spatial dimension to mortgage arrears, across a range of areas such as borrower age, household composition, lender profiles, arrears persistence, housing stress and shelter poverty. It also recommends that emerging policy developments need to factor in a spatial dimension to resolution of arrears problems.
Employment Programmes and contribution to Citizens Information Services Delivery
This external independent CIB commissioned evaluation of employment schemes within the network of citizens information services considers the role and contribution of these programmes and the Community Employment scheme in particular to the delivery of the information, advice and advocacy service model and the benefits to various stakeholders arising from the use of these schemes. The research undertaken by TMA Associates explores the overall nature of engagement of scheme workers in services, the extent of face to face work with clients and the progression of staff into more mainstream roles in services. The research also looks at the extent to which the employment opportunities and the model provided by CIS contributes to the overall government activation and work placement agenda.
Information in Transition: The information, advice and advocacy needs of older people in the technology and information age (2013)
In 2013, the Citizens Information Board provided funding (through the Social Policy Grant scheme) to Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service to research the information, advice and advocacy needs of older people in County Wicklow. The report Information in Transition: The information, advice and advocacy needs of older people in the technology and information age sought to establish what types of information older people in County Wicklow are looking for, how they access this information and who they look to for support in both accessing and acting on this information. Although focussed on older people in County Wicklow, the research has broader relevance for agencies and personnel who are working with marginalised, or hard-to-reach, older people and can help to inform the delivery of services in an age-friendly manner to this group.
MABS Clients and Mortgage Debt - a profile of MABS clients in Mortgage Difficulty (2013)
A Report prepared by MABS National Development Limited (MABS ndl) for the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, based on a sample of almost 6,000 cases was published today. The Report found that this group is primarily made up of households with children, located in urban areas and headed by people between the ages of 41 and 65. Furthermore, clients of the State's Money Advice and Budgeting Service experiencing difficulty with their mortgage were more likely to be unemployed, have multiple debts in addition to the mortgage, and be mortgaged to a mainstream lender. The Report, which underlines the need for a holistic, consumer-focused approach towards the whole area of consumer debt, makes further recommendations in relation to the resolution of the personal debt crisis.
Hard Times for the Self-employed (2012)
Citizens Information Services have seen a substantial increase in the number of self-employed people using their services. MABS also reports growing problems of indebtedness, difficulties in accessing credit and subsequent inability to meet loan and mortgage payments amongst self-employed people. Feedback and case studies from both services have informed the new social policy report.
Lifting the Load (2011)
Waterford MABS with the support of the Citizens Information Board and MABSndl commissioned research on mortgage debt and arrears among MABS clients. The report, Lifting the Load - Help for People with Mortgage Arrears, was prepared by Simon Brooke and Michelle Norris. The research focused on the experiences of MABS clients who were having difficulties repaying their mortgages.
The research documents the difficulties that MABS clients are experiencing in relation to mortgage arrears, explores the impact of current supports available to people and the application of options for the resolution of mortgage debt difficulties and makes recommendations based on the findings Current arrangements including forbearance and mortgage interest supplement address the issues of those in short term difficulty. The research found a more serious problem was that existing arrangements do not meet the needs of people who need medium-term support or have non-viable mortgages. In the case of the latter forbearance can worsen their situation by increasing the debts they owe on dwellings which are likely to be repossessed ultimately. The research identifies a number of potential solutions to the problems of these households including extending Mortgage Interest Supplement and Mortgage to Rent Schemes. "The research is an important contribution to the debate on how to resolve the personal debt crisis," Minister Burton concluded at the launch on the 29th September.
Volunteering in Citizens Information Services (2010)
Volunteering in Citizens Information Services (2010).pdf
Volunteering in Citizens Information Services - Executive Summary (2010).pdf
Volunteering in Citizens Information Services - Executive Summary (Irish) (2010).pdf
Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services (2010)
A new report Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services published by the Citizens Information Board (CIB) highlights the range of issues experienced by the public in relation to travel, transport and access, particularly in rural areas.
Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services (2010).pdf
Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services - Executive Summary (2010).pdf
Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services - Executive Summary (Irish) (2010).pdf