Department of Social Protection
- Department of Social Protection and Intreo Offices
- Citizens Information Board and the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities
- Complaints Procedures for the Department of Social Protection
The department, which was called the Department of Social Welfare until it changed its name in 2010, formulates appropriate social protection policies and administers and manages the delivery of statutory and non-statutory schemes and services. It is responsible for the delivery of a range of social insurance and social assistance schemes including provision for unemployment, illness, disability, maternity, caring, widowhood, retirement and old age.
The Department of Social Protection has taken over responsibility from FÁS for Community Employment and Employment Services including: Advertise a job/Find a job (Jobs Ireland), jobseeking tools, national internship scheme (JobBridge), CE, Supported Employment, Job Initiative, Jobs Clubs, LES offices, Employment Services offices.
The new Intreo offices are now the first point of contact for jobseekers and are the gateway for unemployed learners seeking training, funding for training and supports.
Queries relating to these initiatives should be directed to the Department of Social Protection's offices, contact details are available on http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Intreo_home.aspx and an Intreo office locator is available on this page.
The Citizens Information Board is the statutory body which supports the provision of information, advice and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services. It provides the Citizens Information website, www.citizensinformation.ie, and supports the voluntary network of Citizens Information Centres and the Citizens Information Phone Service 0761 07 4000.
It also funds and supports the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) phone service 0761 07 2000 and the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities.
The Citizens Information Board provides the dedicated Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline 0761 07 4050.
The National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities can be contacted on 0761 07 3000.
The National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities provides an independent, confidential and free, representative advocacy service that works exclusively for the person using the service and adheres to the highest professional standards.
NAS has a particular remit for people with disabilities who are isolated from their community and services, have communication differences, are inappropriately accommodated, live in residential services, attend day services and have limited informal or natural supports. For further information, please see NAS website: http://www.citizensinformationboard.ie/services/advocacy_services/
The formal comments and complaints procedures established by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) allow customers to provide their evaluations on the quality of service it offers, suggest improvements, and submit grievances against the service they receive. Here, the Disability Federation of Ireland looks at these procedures, paying particular attention to complaints that can be made under the Disability Act 2005.
The Department of Social Protection operates a general Comments and Complaints process, inviting customers to send their observations to email@example.com, with all remarks being dealt with in confidence. In the case of a complaint, the grievance can be lodged with the Department in person at one of the public offices, by phone or through the DSP website. An advocate can also make the complaint on an individual’s behalf. Those making a complaint will need to supply the Department with their name, address, daytime phone number and Personal Public Service (PPS) Number, as well as the name of the Social Welfare office and staff members they dealt with in relation to the matter.
If the complaint is not resolved immediately or if an individual remains unhappy with the response received, a request can be made to have it reviewed by the manager or supervisor of the Social Welfare office at hand. If still unsatisfied, the complainant can refer to the Local Manager, Section Manager or Officer designated to handle complaints. Where it is at fault, the DSP will apologise and correct the error as soon as possible, considering whether it can try to ensure the situation doesn’t occur again. In the case that the complaint cannot be resolved for any reason, the Department will explain why.
Complaints Under The Disability Act
In addition to the general comments procedure, the DSP has installed a specific process for people with disabilities who experience difficulty in accessing its facilities and services, as legislated for under the Disability Act 2005. The Act imposes significant obligations on Government departments and public bodies to work towards improving the quality of life for people with disabilities; thus, if the DSP fails to comply with 25, 26, 27 or 28 of the Act, a person with a disability is entitled to make a complaint against the Department. These sections relate to access by people with disabilities to DSP public buildings, schemes and services, and information, as well as to services supplied by the Department.
In accordance with Section 39 (2) of the Act, such a complaint can be made directly by the person, or through their spouse/partner, parent or guardian, or a person acting in loco parentis to the individual. A legal representative, personal advocate assigned by the Citizens Information Board (CIB), or another person advocating on behalf of the individual with his or her consent can also lodge the grievance. This must be made in writing (which can include e-mail or fax), and should provide all contact details, including the PPS Number, of the complainant. It is important for the individual to state that their complaint falls under Section 38 of the Disability Act 2005, setting out its grounds as clearly as possible.
Having received the complaint, the Secretary General refers it to the Inquiry Officer, who then must establish if it relates to an alleged failure by the DSP to comply with the relevant sections of the Act, outlined previously. If the Inquiry Officer, who remains independent in this process, finds the complaint to be unfounded, the Secretary General and the complainant will be notified with the decision. If the issue stands under the provisions of the Act, the Inquiry Officer will investigate it, and may request further information and details from the complainant within a specified time. All parties considered appropriate in relation to the matter may be consulted, with interviews conducted to gather more information if necessary.
Written records of the investigation are maintained, with the Inquiry Officer preparing a report of the results. The findings will determine whether there has been a failure by the DSP to comply with the relevant provisions of the Disability Act. If such a failure has occurred, the necessary steps to be taken by the DSP to adhere to the Act will also be mapped out. Both the complainant and the Secretary General will receive a copy of this report, with this step concluding the process of the investigation.
For more information about the DSP complaints procedures, please visit http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/How-to-Make-a-Comment-or-Complaint-to-the-Department.aspx. Send your comments or complaints under the Disability Act 2005 to: The Secretary General, Department of Social Protection, Áras Mhic Diarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1. Alternatively, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact information for all of the Department's Offices is available in the " Contact Us" area of the DSP website here: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/contact-us_home.aspx