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Job losses feared at Derry DHSS Office

3 December, 2008 - by Maeve McLaughlin

The people of Derry should be informed how a proposed review of the benefits system will affect not just claimants but jobs here, local Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has insisted.

"Under the review of the Social Security Agency, a new stream-lined model of the service is being proposed," Ms. Anderson said.

"This will mean a significant reduction in the number of jobs and benefits offices across the North with more people being asked to get advice by pre-arranged appointment or by telephone service.

"However, I have very serious concerns about how these changes could affect services in areas like Derry and other regions of high deprivation.

"I have been reliably informed that the DHSS office in Derry's Asylum Road will lose the Social Fund and Crisis Loans to Omagh and Job Seekers Allowance to Enniskillen. This will result in either redundancies or relocation of the staff in this office.

"Face-to face contact and advice is crucial when it comes to negotiating the complexities of the benefits system while many people struggling with their benefits may not be able to wait for an appointment or even have access to a phone.

"I am also concerned about how these changes could impact upon staff in social security offices and I am calling on the Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie to ensure that this review will not have a detrimental impact on either staff or services." ENDS

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