Alliance motion to fund benefits service passed by Council

An Alliance motion to continue funding a benefits advice service has been passed by Belfast City Council.

However, Alliance Group Leader Michael Long has said he is “disgusted” after Communities Minister Paul Givan refused to meet the Council on the matter.

The Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service was informed just before Christmas funding from the Council and Department for Communities would be withdrawing funding. The organisation was established ahead of welfare reform changes to help support and assist those in receipt of benefits.

However, after a motion brought by Councillor Long, the Council has now agreed to fund the service until the end of the financial year.

“I was pleased to bring this motion, as the Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service provides valuable, irreplaceable help to many people across Belfast. In the past three years alone, it has dealt with almost 23,000 enquiries and over 3,500 referrals.

“Today’s motion would also see it funded in 2018, subject to the money becoming available. With the incoming changes to welfare reform and associated benefits, the service is now needed more than ever.

“However, it is disgusting that despite today’s move by Belfast City Council, the Minister refuses to meet to discuss with Councillors the next step in the process. Without his help, the service may yet have to close its doors.”

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