Thursday, 1 February 2018

Questions (332)

Thomas Pringle


332. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the latest developments regarding the restructuring of the existing 51 local MABS companies into eight regional companies by the Citizens Information Board, CIB, in view of the recommendation by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection and Dáil Éireann against the restructuring; if her attention has been drawn to the representative deficit in place now that CIB does not recognise MABS NMF as the representative body for MABS boards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5120/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is a statutory body established by the Oireachtas. In addition to its own statutory responsibilities in relation to information and advocacy service provision, it has statutory responsibility for the countrywide networks of Citizens Information Services (CIS) and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

In February 2017, the Board of CIB decided to change its governance arrangements from ninety three individual service delivery companies to an eight region model. The new model will comprise sixteen new regional companies, with one CIS and one MABS company in each of the eight regions.

The governance structure is a matter for the Board of CIB. The Board is clear that this change is necessary so that CIB, and the delivery services it funds, adequately meet the requirements of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and the compliance requirements of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, given the significant level of taxpayers money involved. CIB has been allocated €57.410 million to fund its activities and that of its service delivery partners for 2018.

The changes are being made at local company board level only. The valuable work carried out by employees and volunteers working in CIS services and employees of MABS services will continue as heretofore. The staff and boards throughout the CIS and MABS networks have been assured by CIB that there will be no change to the terms and conditions of staff, no diminution of service and no closure of service delivery points.

Following a request by the Joint Oireachtas Committee (JOC) on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, CIB’s Executive commissioned a Cost Benefit Analysis on the new regional, sixteen company board model. The Report, which is published on CIB’s website, was provided to the JOC on 21st September 2017 and indicates strong support for the decision of the Board to proceed to implement the new governance arrangements.

It is the stated intention of CIB to continue to provide information and support throughout the transitional period. As the restructuring process progresses, all CIS and MABS services will be requested to commence gathering the information required to facilitate what is known as the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employees) (TUPE) process for employees and the transfer of business assets/liabilities. In this regard, information sessions have been organised for Chairpersons of local services, providing opportunities for Chairpersons to seek clarifications on the process of transfer to the new regional companies and wind up of the existing companies.

MABS National Management Forum (NMF) was established as a representative body for the 51 local MABS management companies. It represents the interests of the boards of local MABS companies, as employers. MABS NMF has not recognised the union of MABS staff and there are no agreed collective bargaining arrangements in place.

Individual MABS companies engaging with the TUPE process are and will continue to be supported by CIB. On establishment, CIB will support the eight new MABS regional companies to promptly put in place an Employer/Union Forum.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.