Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan has called on stakeholders to participate in the Economic Inactivity Consultation jointly sponsored by Department Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) and Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) to ensure that the strategy will be about getting people back to meaningful work as opposed to getting them off benefits alone.
Ms. McGahan said,
“There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to implement a strategy to get people who are classed as economic inactive back into employment.
“It is important that we deliver on our commitment to address the long term unemployment and this consultation is an opportunity in devising a strategy that would involve looking at providing skill training, incentives and job creation.
“While I welcome the fact that the two departments DETI and DEL have announced a series of consultations for stakeholders I am also concerned that it could be used as part of the British Welfare Reform Act to get loan parents and sick people off benefits.
“The British Government is proposing moving lone parents and the sick progressively into Job Seekers Allowance for the time the child is aged one which would mean a large influx of people onto the system.
“The consultation has now opened and a local meetings has been arranged for Millennium Forum Derry, Glenavon Hotel Cookstown and Metropolitan College Belfast on the 13th, 19th, and 26th March respectively between 12pm and 2pm.
“The strategy needs to be about getting people who have been economically inactive back into meaningful employment rather than just removing them from the benefit figures.
“I would urge all local stakeholders to attend and have their voices heard by applying for a place through the website on www.delni.gov.uk and attending these events in an effort to shape the strategy.”