Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

500 jobs to be slashed at Northern Ireland Housing Executive

The Housing Executive is axing 500 jobs — one in six of its workforce.

The job losses, which will affect local offices across the province, are being rolled out over the next four years.

They are the result of budget cuts agreed by the Stormont Executive, with housing chiefs required to find significant savings on administration costs and staffing.

But one MLA has already warned the loss of 500 jobs will have a “seriously detrimental” effect.

The housing body, however, said it has a programme in place to minimise the impact on services, including improved technology.

The jobs reduction comes as the Executive prepares to mark its 40th anniversary with a series of events.

A spokesman said: “A number of the losses have already taken place but overall it does involve 500 jobs from a total workforce of about 3,000.”

The figure was discussed at the Stormont committee which scrutinises the Department for Social Development, which oversees the Housing Executive.

Heather Cousins, a senior DSD official, said the job losses “will take place over the next four-year period. It will happen as a result of some areas of work being scaled down.

“For example, we do not have a lot of capital grant money; there

fore, the activity on grants in the Housing Executive is much reduced.

“The staff are still there at the moment, so there is scope for them to be redeployed or, indeed, to seek voluntary redundancies.

“Another issue is the fact that housing benefit will become part of universal credit under welfare reform and will be paid through that mechanism.

“At the moment, quite a number of staff in the Housing Executive are working on housing benefit-related activity, so there will be some reduction in those activities.”

But Sinn Fein’s Fra McCann said: “That is a serious reduction in the amount of people working for the Housing Executive.

“The cuts will have a seriously detrimental impact on the communities.”

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