The Citizens Information Board (CIB) has published its Annual Report 2019.
Highlights include the development of a new Returning to Ireland online information resource for returning emigrants, 16 policy submissions to government departments and the awarding of the Patient Advocacy Service (PAS) to the National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities.
In addition, there were over 47 million page views on citizensinformation.ie, over a million queries to the nationwide network of Citizens Information Centres and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) had a 10% increase in new client figures (16,971) over the previous year.
Angela Black, Chief Executive of the Citizens Information Board, said: “The publication of our 2019 Annual Report showcases a very productive year for the Citizens Information Board. In 2019, we could not have imagined the challenges that lay ahead in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown even more clearly the value of our services to citizens – especially at a time of increased online fake news and misinformation.
All of our services including citizensinformation.ie are trusted sources of information. The website is updated daily and often several times a day. This year more than ever it has been vital to keep pace with the ever-changing information landscape due to COVID-19”. “She added: “Our website is just one of the many services we provide, both directly and indirectly, to inform, advise and advocate on behalf of the citizens of our country.”
Annual Report 2019 highlights:
- citizensinformation.ie had more than 12.5 million users and over 47 million page views.
- Irish citizenship through birth or descent was the most visited document during the year with 590,782 page views.
Most popular pages on Citizensinformation.ie in 2019
||Percentage of total page views
||Irish citizenship through birth or descent
||How to apply for your first Irish passport as an adult
||Working Family Payment
||State Pension (Contributory)
||Minimum rates of pay
||How your income tax is calculated
- CIB was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop a new online resource Returning to Ireland that provides comprehensive and integrated information for returning Irish emigrants. This was a key recommendation of the Indecon Economic Report on Addressing Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants.
- A total of 564,391 people called to Citizens Information Services, with over a million queries.
- The majority of queries from the public were related to social welfare (45%).
- Disability and illness related payments (47%) were the most queried payment types followed by pensions, carers’ payments and extra payments.
- As in previous years, medical cards were the highest single query area (69,881). The number of queries recorded as complex continued to rise and represented 64% of all queries last year. Complex queries on average take between 41-90 minutes.
- The Citizens Information Phone Service (CIPS) dealt with 142,951 telephone enquiries and responded to over 2,300 Live Adviser enquiries.
- 7,981 social policy cases were documented by CISs, an increase of 46% on the previous year. Two thirds of these concerned administrative or operational issues that clients had when accessing payments or services.
- 8,808 Citizens Information clients received an advocacy service. The majority of time spent on advocacy involves working with a client over many months to progress a complex issue or appeal. There were 2,683 long-term advocacy clients involving social welfare appeals (65%) employment appeals (18%) and housing (8%)
- Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) dealt with 16,971 new clients last year, while the MABS Helpline received 25,075 calls. Personal loans (31.4%) were the most common debt type with mortgage debt a close second (30.7%).
- Abhaile, the mortgage arrears support scheme, issued more than 10,000 vouchers for professional assistance. Dedicated Mortgage Arrears advisers helped 8,513 borrowers in late-stage mortgage arrears and almost 15,000 households were supported through the Abhaile scheme.
- The National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities (NAS) provided representative advocacy to 1,022 people and supported 3,061 people with information, advice and other advocacy supports. The Patient Advocacy Service was awarded to NAS and went live in October 2019. Its aim is to provide information and support to people who wish to make a complaint about an experience in a HSE-funded acute hospital.
- The Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) handled 7,503 interpreting assignments – an increase of 15% over the previous year.
- The Traveller community achieved ethnic recognition status. CIB and National Traveller MABS welcomed this as a step in the right direction in helping to conquer discrimination. However, more needs to be done in the areas of fuel poverty, appropriate accommodation and access to affordable credit.
- Last year National Traveller MABS published the “Guide for families of Travellers in Prison” and the research report ”Accommodating Ethnicity Addressing Energy Poverty Among Travellers Living in Mobile Homes and Trailers”.
The Annual Report is available online at: citizensinformationboard.ie/en/about/annual_report/