Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (432)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


432. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reasons for a delay in delivering new Intreo offices for the Department of Social Protection; if she will list those completed to date; those on which work has started and the expected completion date; the expected start date and completion date for those not yet started; the work specifications involved and cost per office; if the office is State owned or rented and the cost of that rent or lease; and the person who is the landlord-owner. [32081/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The objective of the Intreo Service is to improve service efficiency and effectiveness and to maximise the potential for people to return to work or develop skills to help them back into the work force through the provision of a new integrated employment and income support service. A main element to the process is the delivery of a “one stop shop” service from an integrated office location in line with best international practice. The delivery of over 60 Intreo Offices is a major logistical property project for the Department and the Office of Public Works who are responsible for the provision of the Department’s property requirements, including refurbishment and fit out works.

The Department’s Intreo initiative is being progressively rolled out to its national network of local offices. The new service comprises a number of elements, the main components being: activation measures such as client profiling, early group engagement and one-to-one meetings which focus on customised employment supports and monitoring of each client’s progress; an integrated decision-making process leading to swifter throughput of decisions; and an integrated reception providing a one-stop-shop incorporating all strands of the Department’s employment and income support services are part of the new service.

It is important to note that elements of the service, described above, are proceeding across the Department’s network of offices - before individual offices are fully developed to Intreo specifications. Therefore it is intended to implement the integrated decisions and systematic activation process in all offices during 2013.

In addition, the Intreo roll-out is being supported by a training and development plan for all offices to equip staff and management to deliver this new service.

The most important criteria with the project to deliver Intreo offices nationwide is to ensure that the Department is providing accommodation that is of a quality standard for both customers and for staff, while ensuring that the Department is achieving value for money. While 14 offices were originally scheduled for completion in 2012, 10 offices were completed and works had commenced on a further 2 offices, which since have been completed. Delays to the project included issues concerning: significant IR issues around the removal of glass from the Integrated Reception areas which went to arbitration and required an independent assessment by Health and Safety Consultants; upgrading the broadband connectivity to each office to cater for the delivery of the Intreo service; additional space requirements to improve the service and integrate staff from three separate areas into one location; twelve offices are now providing the full Intreo service; and a list of these offices with a breakdown of costs is shown in the attached table. At present works are underway at Loughrea, Achill and Clifden and these are due for completion by the end of July. Works are due to be completed in the Tullamore and Kilkenny offices by the end of August. The Intreo roll-out operates on a rolling programme and is heavily weighted towards a significant number of offices completed by the end 2013. Preparations are underway in other offices and it is expected that a total of 43 offices will be delivering the Intreo service by the end of 2013.

Some of the Department’s existing buildings require minor structural works, while other buildings, because of their condition, health and safety issues or limited space availability will either need major structural works or replacement offices to be sought. It is not possible to list the work specifications for all offices as each office is different and depending on the individual assessment and briefs, they will have different specifications. However, in relation to work specifications, the works at an Intreo Office typically include: provision of an integrated reception; a Group Engagement Room; public Services Card stations; adequate number of interview rooms; and new external and internal signage.

In addition, provision has to be made for electrical and mechanical works, furniture, fittings, installation of CCTV and queuing systems, as required. Expenditure on the rollout of Intreo offices to date in 2013 is estimated at almost €2m. The costs for the remainder of 2013 are not yet known and will be contingent on the contract prices finalised with the contractors on each project. These costs are kept under close scrutiny as the Department is committed to securing value for money in implementing the introduction of the various elements of the service.

The Office of Public Works has responsibility for the acquisition of office accommodation for the Department. Matters of leasing and individual rents are managed by that Office.



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*Total costs include building works, mechanical and electrical installations, furniture, fittings, decorating/painting, electronic queuing systems and security, which includes installation/upgrade of CCTV and alert systems.