Belfast Telegraph

Employment service under strain: minister

Employment Minister Stephen Farry has said his department's employment service for helping the jobless back into work is over-stretched.

He said the employment service was set up to deal with 35,000 on jobseekers' allowance (JSA).

"At present the unemployment level in Northern Ireland is about 7.5%. That means in practice the employment service is dealing with 60,000 people based upon a budget and staffing for handling 35,000 people," he said.

Mr Farry said the service was already under pressure.

"It means a reduction in the level of interviews and support that can be given to people who are trying to return to work," he said.

And he said a drive by the Government to get people off incapacity benefit and onto JSA would be a further drain, with the number of people on JSA likely to increase up to 80,000.

The Alliance Party MLA said he supported a cut in the corporation tax rate but added: "There's no point in trying to attract companies into Northern Ireland from overseas and trying to encourage the fast development of local business if at the same time we do not have the skilled workers."

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