Local Government should link up with Executive to provide jobs and benefit advice, says Eastwood

Local Government should be linked up with Executive Departments to provide a one-stop shop for those seeking advice around jobs, benefits, reskilling and training opportunities, Alliance Councillor Sorcha Eastwood has said.

Councillor Eastwood was speaking after meeting with officials from the Department for Communities, alongside party colleague Kellie Armstrong MLA. She said a wraparound service could be provided, utilising local business input and knowledge.

“The recovery from this pandemic will be the biggest economic challenge we will have faced for generations,” she said.

“Unfortunately, some people are going to lose their jobs as a result of Covid19 and will have to seek other work and access Universal Credit. While the Department completed some good work during the pandemic, more needs done long-term to help those in search of employment and assistance.

“We need the Department of Communities and the Department of the Economy to work with job coaches through local Jobs and Benefits Offices to identify and nurture opportunities in new and growing industries, while expanding apprenticeships to include not only young people but also those who need to retrain or up skill to work in a new type of job. We are keen to see skilled tradespeople employed to teach skills to school leavers.

“Local Government should be utilised as the first port of call in these instances, becoming a one-stop shop if you are made redundant, where you can not only gain advice but find out what local businesses are hiring or what local courses would be suitable.

“If we can get people signposted to the relevant areas quickly, this cross-Departmental approach can be the urgent action needed as we face redundancies and a tough economic situation.”