05/09/2011

Job Seekers Helped To Move From Incapacity

Help into employment for those moving from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance has been promised.

The NI Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry (pictured here) has pledged to provide advice, support, and help into work, for those moving from Incapacity Benefit or Income Support to the Employment and Support Allowance.

The Social Security Agency's Incapacity Benefit/Income Support reassessment commenced in February 2011 and it is expected that 76,000 individuals will go through the process of having their claim reassessed over a three-year period.

The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers clients personalised support and financial help.

This will be complemented by an advice and support service from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) so that each individual can prepare for and find appropriate work.

The Minister was speaking at Knockbreda Jobs & Benefits office as he outlined his Department's service, which is designed to help this group of clients prepare for and move into employment.

The Minister said: "DEL has been working closely with DSD colleagues to ensure that there will be appropriate advice, support and guidance to assist individuals at every stage through this process.
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"“My Department's Employment Service is committed to ensuring that people who move from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance receive full assistance to help them prepare for, and move into work. Clients will receive the services of a trained Employment Service Adviser in order to identify the most appropriate support, including advising on programmes available.

"Through initiatives such as Steps to Work and a range of Disability Employment Service programmes, my staff will provide flexible work-focused support, tailored to the specific needs of each client. By offering training opportunities, job search skills, work experience placements and supported job opportunities, we can assist to overcome barriers and provide a path back into employment," the Alliance Minister said.

"The Social Security Agency will reassess all Incapacity Benefits/Income Support recipients within the three year period although some will continue to be referred to the Department for Employment and Learning beyond this period.

Department for Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, said: "It is vitally important that all those who are affected by changes to Incapacity Benefit and indeed the wider welfare reforms are supported through these changes.

"My Department supports some of the most vulnerable people in our society and I want to reassure all those who are entitled to this support that they will continue to get it.

"However, the welfare system as it stands does need to change. It needs to be made sustainable for the future and should support those who can work, back into work.

"My officials will continue to work closely with officials from the Department for Employment and Learning to ensure that support is offered to people in Northern Ireland at every step in the Incapacity Benefit reassessment process," concluded the DUP Stormont Minister.

(BMcC/GK)

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