Armstrong calls on Communities Minister to give assurances over Department’s ability to cope with benefit claimants

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has called on the Communities Minister to give assurances her Department can cope with the surge in benefit claims in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Strangford MLA said many workers made unemployed due to the COVID-19 outbreak were forced to move to benefits, however, concerns remained over the capacity of the Department for Communities to deal with the upsurge in claimants.

“People who have been laid off, even temporarily, are looking to benefits for support. Until we have clarity around support for furloughed workers from the UK Government, more and more people will be looking to universal credit and other benefits, as they face an uncertain financial future.

“With an estimated over 100,000 people now on the waiting list to get their documents verified and able to claim benefits, the question needs to be asked if the Department for Communities has the capacity to handle the huge surge in new benefit claims.

“It is vital the system can cope with this massive increase in applications we have seen over the past week. I call on Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to assure the public her Department will be able to process all the applications we are going to see in the wake of this global pandemic.”