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Deputy Mayor condemns proposed Worktrack closure

23 November, 2004

Deputy Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Joe O'Donnell this morning reacted angrily to the British Governments proposed axing of the Worktrack program before Christmas.

Cllr O‚Donnell said;

"I am saddened but not surprised by the scrooge like attitude of the British Govt. towards these workers who are attempting to re-enter the labour market despite the different obstacles that are placed in their way. Indeed, this is reminiscent of the scrapping of the ACE schemes by a similarly minded government.

"The news of the impending end of Worktrack in the run up to Christmas will come as a great shock and disappointment to both providers and workers alike. This disappointment is only added to when you consider the fact that no consultation was undertaken with either the providers or workers before the final decision was made.

"This announcement makes a mockery of the British Govt's stated intention of 'getting people back to work' - what they are now doing is forcing people back onto benefits and the subsequent poverty trap which that entails. The erroneous claims that these cuts are a result of falling unemployment does not take into account the fact that WorkTrack is designed to target areas of high social and economic deprivation where unemployment figures are substantially higher than average.

"The British Govt. has not proposed any alternative to the WorkTrack initiative and they intend to squander the advances of the last 5 years which have seen 600 people go through this scheme in Belfast alone. I am calling on them to at least have the decency to let WorkTrack run to its original 2006 review date if they do not have the foresight to extend it in the long term." ENDS

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