THE Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton has officially opening the new Intreo offices in Limerick.
The offices, which are located at Dominick Street, combine the former employment services of FÁS and the community welfare services which were previously operated by the HSE with those offered by the Department of Social Protection.
The new Intreo offices in Newcastle West will be opened during 2014 and plans are also being finalised to open offices in KIlmallock over the next 18 months.
Around 20 people staged a protest outside the Intreo offices in Limerick last Friday to express their opposition to the JobBridge scheme as Minister Burton was performing the official opening inside.
The protesters could be heard jeering and heckling the minister as she addressed staff and invited guests included Mayor Kathleen Leddin and Minister Jan O’Sullivan.
Jim Lynch, divisional manager with the Department of Social Protection, says the opening of the new Intreo offices is significant for those who are unemployed.
“What’s on offer here now is the kernel of a one-stop-shop approach so when somebody comes in we now have the three services being delivered from the one location so if people want to access a broad range of services - whether it be job placement, community welfare services, rent allowance or any of those types of service, they are all available from this office,” he said.
Minister Burton, who performed the official opening of the new offices, said while the numbers on the live register in Limerick have fallen significantly in recent months, she is anxious that employers continue to engage with the department through the jobs plus scheme, which was launched earlier in the year.
“It offers an employer a wage subsidy of €300 a month for every month up to two years that they take somebody who has been one year unemployed and it goes up to €400 a month if the person has been unemployed for two years or more,” she said.
Ms Bruton added that she hopes people who unemployed will not be ashamed to engage with staff at the new Intreo office.
“I very much hope that in future in Limerick when people come in to sign on, having perhaps unfortunately lost their job, that it is also the first day of the Department of Social Protection and the officials here in Limerick actually helping people back to work or to education or to training,” she told the Limerick Leader.