The €208,000 spend by the Department of Social Protection on new signage for its Intreo centres came under fire yesterday.
In response to a written Dáil question by Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton confirmed that €208,000 had been spent on new external and internal signage that includes branding costs at 44 Intreo centres.
Ms Burton said the €208,000 forms part of a total cost of €15.8m associated with the works in developing the centres.
Mr O’Dea said: “The costs seem very high. The department is under severe pressure and deals with the poorest people in the country. It must ensure that no money is wasted and I will be seeking a further breakdown of the costs involved.”
The Limerick TD added: “It is difficult to see why the costs would be so high — it works out at a cost of around €5,000 per signs per centre.
In her written Dáil response, Ms Burton said that “to date, Intreo Centres have been established at 44 locations. At some locations it has meant acquiring new premises and at others the refurbishment of one or more than one office in the town.”
She said: “The cost for physically fitting out the offices to provide for an integrated service consists of structural, mechanical, electrical, and ancillary costs that include queuing systems, security, furniture, and fittings.
“The total cost associated with the works is approximately €15.3m and the overall branding cost, including both external and internal signage, is approximately €208,000.”
Ms Burton said: “Apart from signage, branding costs arising during the development of the new service identity related to the initial design, the design implementation, some translation costs, the cost of royalty-free images, and trademark search and registration. These costs totalled €59,516.”
Ms Burton said that prior to the establishment of the Intreo service, the department commissioned work under a 2009 contract on the design, development, and implementation of new processes to integrate the three previous services of the department itself, the Community Welfare Service, and the employment services units of Fás.
Ms Burton said the total cost of this consultancy was €186,563. “A particular effort was made to keep costs down during the development of the new service through procuring services via public tender from various suppliers to ensure cost effectiveness,” she said.
“I am satisfied that the costs incurred compare more than favourably with the costs of implementing similar service developments in other states.”
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