Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Question 144: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason for the ongoing delay with introducing a personal advocacy service; the month in 2008 when she expects it to be launched and fully operational; the number of additional staff requested by the Citizens Information Board for the new service; the number currently sanctioned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24794/08]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 144 together.
The introduction of a personal advocacy service as provided for in the Citizens Information Act 2007 is a priority for the Department. It is proposed to establish the personal advocacy service on a phased basis. An organisational structure has been developed by the Citizens Information Board to meet the needs of the personal advocacy service, PAS. The post of director of PAS was sanctioned by the Department of Finance in 2007 and the Citizens Information Board has completed the recruitment process. It is expected that the appointment will be made shortly.
The service will be launched when the director has taken up the position, recruited the staff and is satisfied that the structures, resources and facilities are in place to allow the service to commence operation. In view of the recruitment process which will need to be undertaken for the additional posts, it is not possible at this time to give a definitive date on which the service will be launched and fully operational. The service will be subject to continuing review and additional posts, if required, will be sought as necessary depending on the level of demand for the service.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
In the meantime the Citizens Information Board is continuing preparatory work in regard to the establishment of the new service and has identified accommodation to facilitate its immediate needs. On my recent visit to the Citizen Information Board, I was briefed on the steps which it has taken to get the service under way and I am confident that once the staff are in place, the service will be available to those who require it.
Have the recommendations been brought to the Minister with regard to the filling of that post? Will other positions within that service be filled at the same time and what are recommendations to the Minister in this regard?
The total funding for advocacy services for this year is €6.1 million. There was additional funding included in that in the budget of €1.8 million for service development, which would include the advocacy service and the additional post for the PAS. The person has been identified as the appropriate choice for director of the service but sanction from the Department of Finance is necessary before the remaining posts can be filled.