NIPSA has reacted angrily to news coming through from local Representatives that a number of Housing Executive offices have been earmarked for closure in the coming months.
Paddy Mackel, NIPSA Official with responsibility for housing matters commented:
“This is astonishing news and will clearly cause significant concern to residents and the wider community. As recently as April, NIPSA was advised that a review of accommodation was not considering closure. However a presentation given to some local NIPSA Representatives has included information which indicated that local offices in the Southern Region and also in the North West are due to close.
To date there has been no consultation with the union on the impact on our members, or the valuable service they provide to the public. There appears to have been no public consultation, no political engagement, no equality impact assessment or rural impact assessment.
What is even more shocking is the knowledge that with the introduction of Universal Credit and the end of mitigation payments in March 2020, if the Assembly hasn’t been re-established in the coming few months, residents and those in receipt of Housing Benefit payment will be even more vulnerable then they are currently. This is likely to result in even greater reliance on local offices to access advice and assistance.
On top of all of this, there is also the issue of many of these offices being Housing Executive properties which would become vacant.”
Following a meeting of NIPSA’s Central Panel, it was agreed to raise these concerns with the Director and to engage with the wider community to build united opposition to this news.
Paddy Mackel concluded by stating:
“If ever there was a wrong time to contemplate reducing access to the community for housing advice and assistance, this is it. NIPSA and its members, in collaboration with others, will do all we can to resist this agenda.”