Belfast Telegraph

Department for Social Development to slash over 700 jobs - benefits office and Housing Executive to suffer bulk of cuts

By Claire Cromie

Hundreds of staff are set to lose their jobs at Northern Ireland's benefits office and Housing Executive.

The Department for Social Development has outlined how it will make spending cuts in next year's budget.

The Social Security Agency is to see 350 jobs axed - and 300 jobs will go at the Housing Executive.

A further 75 jobs are likely to go from central departmental functions.

It is hoped the positions will go through voluntary redundancies, officials told a Stormont committee on Thursday.

Fears that up to 30 of the jobs will be cut from the Agency’s Lisahally satellite unit on the outskirts of Derry have prompted Foyle MP Mark Durkan to meet with Chief Executive Tommy O’Reilly.

Mr Durkan said: “This move by the Department for Work and Pensions is no reflection on the performance and efficiency of these workers but stems from the DWP’s deliberate drive to privatise support services.

“There would be little real prospect of getting DWP to reverse their position which is already contracted – and any stay that might be achieved at that end would be vulnerable in their next wave of cuts.

“The Social Security Agency owes it to these staff to try to protect their employment and I therefore want to talk to the Agency about any possible work streams which could be reassigned for them.

“We will also need to look at other possible deployments for the staff, but it needs to be recognised that many of them could not really use offers of posts that have undue travel. Indeed, some of the staff opted into the unit in order to relieve the personal and family strain of travelling to Belfast.

“It would be particularly unfair if staff whose own welfare and considerations in relation to their current posting should fall victim to a policy-driven change which ignores the quality of their work.”

Further reading:

Senior Northern Ireland education official says thousands of jobs will go because of savage budget cuts 

Stormont staff banned from calling Speaking Clock after racking up £2.7k phone bill  

Next step on corporation tax up to our politicians

PSNI drawing up plans to cope with 'drastically' reduced ranks

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