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Throughout May, the Citizens Information Board (CIB) engaged in comprehensive consultations about the implementation of the revised structure of the Citizens Information Services (CIS) and the Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS). CIB hosted fourteen separate consultation sessions, covering the eight proposed regions throughout the country and met with the staff and Board members of MABS, and the staff, volunteers and Board members of CIS from every county in Ireland. Services were well represented throughout the country, with 78% of invited CIS staff and 100% of MABS staff present, while 81% of the MABS Boards and 77% of the CIS Boards were also represented.
The Implementation Consultations for the Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick, Clare region were held in mid May. Board representatives attended from 100% of the CIS companies, and 90% of the MABS companies. Staff from 100% of MABS companies within the region attended, along with staff and volunteers from 90% of CIS companies. The next phase in the process is to hold group sessions in the coming weeks on a range of key themes identified at the recent consultations. The topics will focus on the role of volunteers, maintaining the local link within regional structures, and the strategy for service delivery for both the CIS and MABS.
Angela Black, CEO, CIB, reassured the stakeholders that, since the reorganisation will be at Board level only, there will be no job losses and no changes to the terms and conditions of employment (under the Transfer of Undertakings for the Protection of Employment - TUPE). TUPE is part of EC Regulations 2003, which provides for the protection of employees when transferring to a new company.
This defined legal process makes clear provision to ensure that conditions and contracts of the employment of individual employees involved in a transfer are protected. A legal firm has been contracted by CIB to support CIS and MABS employees through the TUPE process in each region. Further professional support in areas such as pensions, premises, HR, and company wind-up and transfer, will also be available to all services to aid the transition phase.
Many of the participants at the consultations acknowledged that the former structure of 93 Boards with 93 separate companies was excessive, and that the new structure of 16 Regional Boards was a welcome measure to set up CIS and MABS as 21st century services.
The Citizens Information Board, having noted the recent recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Social Protection Committee, is committed, through its executive, to implement the reorganisation of CIS and MABS operations at Board level. The consultation into how to adapt the CIS and MABS services to ensure better services and improved governance involved extensive research. This included a review of the organisational structures and a feasibility study regarding the consolidation of delivery partners to ensure a modern, more robust service delivery model.
In addition, recommendations from the Comptroller & Auditor General included a requirement that CIB improve the effectiveness of the control environment, financial management and governance of the services in the short term.
The Citizens Information Board thanks all those who took part in the consultations and looks forward to working towards a smooth transition for the staff, volunteers and Board members of the CIS and MABS organisations.