07/10/2021

Other News In Brief

Potential Security Breach In Voucher Scheme Is Unacceptable - Dickson

A potential security breach in the roll out of the High Street Voucher scheme is absolutely unacceptable, according to Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.

Mr Dickson said he had been contacted by constituents who had received cards meant for other people, as the first round began to roll out across Northern Ireland.

He added the Minister must now give urgent reassurance that this mistake will be fully investigated in order to deliver public confidence in the scheme.

"I have already taken this up with the Department this morning as there is no telling just how far reaching these mistakes go. I am currently awaiting an official response – which includes how these mistakes can be quickly rectified, compounded by the fact there is not central helpline designed to help those with questions and concerns," he said.

"This is potentially a very serious security breach, with constituents receiving letters addressed to them, yet with cards attached for other people. How has the printing system managed to get things so wrong? It is just the latest in a long line of questions that are emerging around the roll out of this scheme."

Call For Parental Bereavement Leave and Benefit To Be Introduced

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Minister Humphreys to introduce a Parental Bereavement Leave and Benefit.

Proposed in Sinn Féin's Alternative Budget 2022 measures for Social Protection, ‘Building Better Social Protection for All’, the scheme would make a statutory provision of two weeks paid leave for parents following the loss of a child.

Speaking following the exchange with the Minister, Teachta Kerrane said: "The loss of a child is devastating for parents and at that most horrific time in a parent's life, our Social Protection system needs to step in to provide support.
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"It is important to recognise where there are gaps in our Social Protection system.

"As it stands, parents who lose a child are entitled to just 3 days statutory leave in a 12-month period, with compassionate leave at the discretion of employers.

"We put forward this proposal in our Alternative Budget as an initial introduction of this much-needed scheme.

"We are proposing two weeks paid at the rate of existing maternity, paternity and parent’s leave and benefit, which is €245 per week.

"The Benefit would be payable to parents who lose a child under the age of 18 years, including following a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of the length of their current employment.

"It is very welcome that the Minister acknowledged the tragedy families suffer after the death of a child and advised that she will consider our proposal further."

Belfast Road To Close Overnight For Improvements

A key transport link in Belfast is set to undergo a series of improvement works.

The Department for Infrastructure is moving forward with £225,000 resurfacing work on the A55 Belvoir Road.

The improvement work will extend along the southbound carriageway from the Newtownbreda Road at Tesco to the Milltown Road. Additional works will also be undertaken to ensure the safe movement of pedestrians along the adjacent footway.

Work will begin on Monday 11 October and is expected reach completion by Monday 18 October. Overnight road closures will be in place between 8pm and 6am throughout to facilitate the work. During these times the Southbound carriageway will be closed and a diversionary route will be clearly signed for traffic via A24 Saintfield Road, Purdysburn Road and Milltown Road. The Northbound carriageway will remain open and there will be access to the Tesco store throughout the work.

Road users should allow additional time when planning their journey and comply with all temporary traffic restrictions.

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