West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Fears Housing Executive Review could cost jobs

Published: 14 September, 2012

Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald said a review being carried out by the Housing Executive could see the erosion of local jobs from the Omagh Office of the executive. Highlighting her fears following a special meeting between Omagh District Council and the Housing Executive she said it was imperative that such jobs remain in the Omagh area.

Councillor Fitzgerald explained:

"The outworkings of the review being carried out within the Housing Executive since November will see a reduction from five to three main offices for the Executive in the north. Subsequently the number of managers will also be reduced to three. Under proposals the Housing Executive would look towards 'streamlining' services through the three main offices.

"It is my understanding that Omagh is to be the location for a new 'hub' within the Housing Executive. This will see the establishment of an internal working system, known as a hub, and will take place against the backdrop of the establishment of the three main offices in the north.

"With the introduction of Universal Credit, which is due to be introduced between now and 2017, I would also have concerns about the future of the Housing Benefits services currently on offer within the Housing Executive. I would have reservations should these services be taken over by other Government Bodies when the Housing Executive has proven itself when it comes to this issue.

"It is my fear that within this there is the potential of job losses within the organisation locally. This would have a detrimental effect, leading to a haemorrhaging of local jobs within the Housing Executive. The knock on result for users would also be damaging.

"At Tuesday's meeting we had pressed the point that the Omagh operation of the Housing Executive has proven itself time and again as one of the best performing Housing Executive branches in the north. Indeed its accounting department has been recognised as a top performer for the sterling work they have undertaken in recent years. Although it was pointed out that the review was ongoing and there were currently no plans to relocate the accounting department from Omagh, we were informed that if indeed it did move it would most likely relocate to Craigavon. We strongly outlined our opposition of any relocation of these services to Craigavon and have reiterated the fact that Omagh carried the work and cleared a huge backlog of work from offices throughout the north who have underperformed in the past. So to lose this successful operation, which has proven itself, would be a backward move for the Housing Executive.

"We, as a council, have written to the DSD minister Nelson McCausland to seek clarification on a number of points coming out of the review and outlining our opposition to any proposed job losses or relocations within the Housing Executive."