The Councillor for East Belfast highlighted the opportunity to train people into support roles as Welfare Reform changes are implemented next year at the latest meeting of Belfast City Council.
Councillor Maire Hendron, speaking during a debate on Welfare Reform, said the Council had a real opportunity to make a difference to those affected by Welfare Reform changes. The local Councillor seconded a proposal from Councillor Tim Attwood that saw her suggestion become a reality.
Councillor Maire Hendron said: “While as a Council we can do very little to stop Welfare Reform changes coming in next year, we are in a position to create jobs via our Investment Programme, ensuring extra help is available for those affected.
“Through the Investment Programme we can fund and train interns and graduates, putting then into positions across Belfast with the Northern Ireland Advice Office. In these positions they will be able to assist staff who will have many cases to deal with.
“When it comes to welfare reform, as a council there is very little we can do. The bill currently going through the Assembly originates from legislation passed in Westminster – the only place real changes could have been made. Our MLAs have only limited flexibility around the edges and must focus their efforts on amending the delivery options.
“But as Councillors we can make a difference to how much support is in place once the Welfare Reform Bill is rolled out. By supporting plans to train people through the Investment Programme we can ensure adequate numbers of staff are available to offer advice and assistance to all those affected.”