I wanted to provide you a brief update of the process for risk assessments to be completed before any offices would be re-opened to the public.

As I have stated previously, management and the Minister were anxious to re-open offices to assist with completion of applications for Free School Meals allowance and Uniform Grants. Over the last week or so, we have been engaged with management daily to agree a risk assessment process that will cover the customer journey while in the office.

Access will only be for UC claimants seeking assistance as we have secured that 24,000 families will be passported and not need forms stamped. We also believe that the vast majority of UC claimants will either print out the papers needed themselves or request copies through their journals. However those UC claimants needing assistance can attend the office but will only gain access on a one in/one out basis and there will be a rigorous system in place to protect staff and claimants. No other claimants will be allowed access to the building.

As part of the risk assessment, we have also received assurances that G4S staff and those staff who will work at the Welcome Desk/Screened room to support claimants will be engaged as part of the risk assessment. Please take this opportunity to ask questions and seek reassurances regarding the process and recommend any changes needed.

Risk assessments will begin in some offices today and in others early next week. Offices will not open until risk assessments are complete and all necessary measures are in place. While we argued for the offices to remain closed, there is no doubt that the principles agreed are significantly different to what was proposed originally and members are safer as a result of NIPSA involvement in this process.

We will continue to monitor the implementation of this process and please forward any concerns to your local safety rep, seconded officer or to myself.

Dooley Harte
Assistant Secretary