Sixth of adults contact Citizens Information

Nearly 608,000 people, one in six of the country’s adults, contacted the Citizens Information Services last year.

Overall, the network dealt with over 1m queries over the year, a 2% increase on 2015.

Housing inquiries, solely, had risen by 27%. The report shows staff dealt with over 95,000 housing-related queries, a daily average of 260. The figure represented 16% of all queries.

Eight out of ten people contacted their local CIS in person. One in five telephoned, with just 1% using email.

More than half of the callers (57%) were women. Nearly half of all callers (47%) were aged between 26 and 45.

The CIS has 42 centres and pointed out it was unlike other services which used the internet and automated responses to answer people’s queries.

The network offers free, impartial and confidential information and advice on social and public services.

The report, Making An Impact — The Public Value of Citizens Information Services, was launched by the social campaigner, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy.

Sr Stan, founder and board member of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said “unnecessary complexity” was making access to public services impenetrable.

“What stands out in this report is just how impenetrable our structures and systems are. This impenetrability is causing daily anguish to people who are simply trying to deal with everyday life events — accessing a public service like health care or adult education, dealing with bereavement or managing their finances.”

She urged the Government to pay closer heed to the information collected by the CIS and use it to improve public service provision by dispensing with unnecessary red tape.

“It clearly identifies the types of challenges people face trying to access public services and, in doing so, provides the seeds for solutions,” said Sr Stan.

Over 46% of all queries (462,738) received by CIS were about social welfare, and more than one in six were about payments for families and children. There were 71,463 queries (11.7%) about employment.

More than 60% of callers made repeat visits to CIS centres. Over 54% of queries took at least ten minutes to be dealt with by staff, many of whom are volunteers. Almost one in five calls took between 20 and 90 minutes to resolve.

There were over 82,000 health queries, and about two thirds of these (54,928) were about medical cards.


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