The Citizens Information Board (CIB) provides information on people’s rights and entitlements in Ireland, as well as advice on debt issues and household budgeting. The global economic downturn has been particularly sharp in Ireland and unemployment has risen dramatically in the past three years. The live register for February 2011 (the record of people signing on for unemployment benefits) stood at 439,200 people. This represents 13.5% of the workforce compared to only 5.4% in April 2008. In the latter half of 2008 the network of centres began receiving a huge upsurge in queries about entitlements for unemployed people and for people working on reduced hours or wages. Many of these people had had no previous experience of unemployment and were unaware of their entitlements or how to access assistance. The need was felt at CIB to produce a central resource to provide information to the public directly. So they decided to set up a ‘microsite’, called ‘losingyourjob.ie that would draw together and adapt content from their main website, citizensinformation.ie, and from their list of publications. They also wanted to produce a booklet (to be called ‘Have you lost your job?’) and to publicise information on entitlements through seminars and events rolled out across the Citizens Information network. As the years prior to 2008 had seen strong immigration in Ireland, particularly from Poland, they also needed to produce a resource for this hard-hit community.
Available since March 2009, ‘losingyourjob.ie’ was set up in a six-week period. The website aims to cover cross-sectoral information areas such as claiming social security benefits, requesting a tax refund, looking for a new job, starting a business etc. It also provides information for migrant workers returning to EU or non-EU countries and for Irish citizens looking to relocate within and outside the EU. Losingyourjob.ie logged more than 20,000 visitors in its first 12 weeks and has had more than 120,000 visitors (more than 165,000 ‘visits’) in the past two years. Losingyourjob.ie has also proved to be very valuable for the more than 1000 staff of Citizens Information Centres around the country, allowing the centres to better manage demand.
In total the site cost €5000 to produce, most of it spent on translations into Irish and Polish. Losingyourjob.ie was a finalist in the European eGovernment Awards 2009 and in the Irish eGovernment Awards 2010, the initiative also won a Taoiseach’s Award for Public Service Excellence in 2010.
CIB has since collaborated with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to build a second microsite, keepingyourhome.ie, aimed at people experiencing difficulties paying their mortgages or rent. In the 9th EC eGovernment Benchmarking exercise, ‘Digitising Public Services in Europe: Putting ambition into action’, published in February 2011, the report singles out ‘losingyourjob.ie’ as a best practice model and as being ‘complete in scope and includ[ing] information on a wide range of social support services such as debt counselling and guidance related to housing.’ (http://bit.ly/eyh5cB).
|Award category:||smart public service delivery|
|Sector:||Employment, labour related affairs and gender equality|
|Type of activity:|
|Keywords:||Reduced hours, reduced pay, redundancy, unemployment, social security, re-training, jobseekers, starting a business mortgages, rent, moving abroad|
|Short English description:||Losingyourjob.ie has also proved to be very valuable for the more than 1000 staff of Citizens Information Centres around the country, allowing the centres to better manage demand.|
|Organisation:||Citizens Information Board|
|Level of government:||national level|
|Size of organisation:||50-100|
|Number of people involved:||6-10|
|EU membership:||EU member|