Hallowe’en treat as axe lifted from Cookstown Job Centre.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

THE reprieve for the Jobcentre in Cookstown has been widely welcomed.

It is to be kept open until Universal Credit has been rolled out.

The Department for Communities has made the change and says the move will "see the consolidation of services and staff in Cookstown from two current sites" It will see services currently delivered from the Cookstown Social Security Office relocated to Cookstown Jobcentre.

And the news has been welcomed by SDLP Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone.

He said: "Staff have been working under a cloud of threatened closure and this will be good news for them.

The introduction of Universal Credit will take some time - so this decision will see the local facilities in Cookstown remaining open for the next number of years.

"Universal Credit is a complicated and unwelcome move and will cause many on benefits stress and inconvenience and this is the exact time that people need their local facilities and regular, friendly local staff to engage with.

"Local people were being threatened with having to make long journeys to get help and assistance and those being forced to travel long distances would often be those with little income or worse still under Universal Credit no income at all for a period of time."

And Mr McGlone stated his belief the move was "the right and proper thing to do".

"The Tory Party, aided by DUP and Sinn Fein have changed the landscape of benefits in Northern Ireland and whilst there may be some mitigation it is not guaranteed going forward.

"The least that could be done by the Department is this move to maintain local support in Cookstown which isn't just welcome - it is the right and proper thing to do for local people."

And trade union NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance), which represents staff in the Cookstown office, which comes under the Department for Communities (DfC) has welcomed the decision.

NIPSA Official for DfC, Tony McMullan, Assistant Secretary, said: "This is a fantastic good news story. It follows a very significant campaign lodged by this trade union against the De partment's original decision.

"I am very grateful for the amount of support shown to NIPSA by the local communities, voluntary groups and local politicians who understood the argument to keep public services local."

"At a time when so many public services are being centralised it is essential that local communities have the opportunity of getting proper social security advice and guidance on employment related matters in the heart of their community."


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