Loss of jobs office is 'devastating blow'
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
THE Jobs and Benefits Office in Crossmaglen is likely to be closed down as part of a review of Community Benefits Offices across the north.
The Department for Social Development (DSD) has refused to confirm that the Crossmaglen branch will be shut down but area councillor Terry Hearty said he has received confirmation that it is to close.
Mr Hearty said he has been informed that the rental contract for the office is not be renewed after April.
The Sinn Fein councillor said the loss of the office would be a devastating blow to the town.
“This news is a further blow to the people of Crossmaglen as the Jobs and Benefits Office provided a pivotal service and many people avail of the facility." he said.
“This will have a knock on effect on other businesses in the area, as people availing of this service would have visited the local shops.
“The town has seen a number of cuts and closures in the last few years.
“One of the banks has closed and the hours of the library have been reduced, all contributing to a high rate of unemployment in the area.
“Unfortunately, some of the people who avail of this vital service do not drive and will have to use public transport; there is a poor bus service that only goes at set hours so this will further affect them.
“My party colleague MLA Mickey Brady has been in touch with social services and we intend to follow this up."
A DSD spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the future of the office.
“In line with the Social Security Agency's commitment to deliver a modernised welfare system to customers across Northern Ireland, a review of Community Benefits Offices in currently underway," she said.
“These offices currently provide a limited range of services and often require claimants to subsequently attend one of the 35 regional Jobs and Benefits Offices/Social Security Offices.
“The outcome of the review is expected shortly and the details will be communicated to staff and stakeholders.
“It would be inappropriate to make any comment through the media in advance of that."
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