Citizens Information Report

A Window Into the Most Pressing Concerns of People in Dublin

One in six adults living in the country contacted one of the country’s 42 Citizens Information Services (CIS) last year, including Dublin 2,4 and 6 Citizens Information Services, according to a new report launched this week.

A total of 607,913 people contacted CISs in 2016 with a total of 1.01 queries overall, an increase of 2% on the previous year.

Remarkably, the vast majority of callers to the services were supported by CIS staff face to face. Four out of five people (80%) contacted their local CIS in person, nearly 20% by telephone, with just 1% contacting the service by email.
This is in contrast to the move by many other services to use internet and automated responses to answer people’s queries, CIS Irishtown said.

Over 46% of all queries (462,738) were in relation to social welfare. Over one in six of these related to payments for families and children, including family income supplement, one-parent family allowance, child benefit or back to school clothing or footwear for example.

The statistics are contained in Making An Impact – The Public Value of Citizens Information Services. Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, who was guest speaker at the launch said that the huge numbers of enquiries highlighted how inaccessible and impenetrable many public services are.
“What stands out in this report is just how impenetrable our structures and systems are,” Sr. Stan said. “This impenetrability is causing daily anguish to people who are simply trying to deal with everyday life events – accessing a public service like healthcare or adult education, dealing with bereavement or managing their finances.

“We all know life is difficult enough without adding unnecessary layers of complexity. I would urge all policy and law makers to use the wealth of knowledge gathered by the CIS service to inform their own work and remove all unnecessary red tape.”
The number of housing related queries rose significantly in 2016, increasing by over 27%. Citizens Information Services dealt with over 95,000 queries related to housing issues, or an average of 260 housing queries every day of the year.

Mary Murtagh, Development Manager, said that Citizens Information Services were dealing with more complex queries: “We are consistently dealing with more complex issues and more difficult situations for families and individuals,” she said. “One of the great advantages of the CISs is that we are located where people are living, like here in Ringsend Irishtown Community Centre, at 7 Wynnefield Road Rathmines or in the Carmelite Community Centre on Aungier Street.”

She added: “One of the valuable pieces of evidence that this report shows is that people who visit CISs prefer to talk to other people about their difficulties and concerns. Our community connection as a drop-in service is our greatest strength.”
There were over 82,000 health queries with medical cards representing two thirds (67% or 54,928) of them. Other recurring trends saw migrants continued reliance on face to face information services; 22% of callers whose country of origin was recorded, came from other EU or non EU countries.

The Citizens Information Board provides independent information, advice and advocacy on public and social services through and funds and supports the Citizens Information Phone Services 0761 07 4000 and the nationwide network of Citizens Information Services.
For more information contact: Dublin 2,4, 6 Citizens Information Service. Telephone 076-1077110