Urgent clarification needed on budgets, says Armstrong, after charity announces redundancy notices

Urgent clarification on budgets for the forthcoming financial year is needed after a major charity placed their employment services staff on 30-day redundancy notice, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said. 

Kellie Armstrong Budget

Mencap NI took the decision to inform the employment services staff, who train people with disabilities to support them into work, they will be made unemployed from March 31 due to the lack of information from local Departments or the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund on the charity’s funding from April 1.

Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Learning Disabilities, said it was disgraceful Mencap had been forced into the move.

“The last thing Mencap wanted to do was to put staff in this horrendous and upsetting situation, or to leave so many people with learning disabilities with no support in only a few weeks,” she said.

“Northern Ireland has the highest level of unemployment of people with disabilities. For months I have listened to officials from the Department for Communities talk about how we need to help them into employment. Yet here we are with one of the largest employment support services preparing to make this move, closing the door on a major support mechanism to do exactly that.

“Those stopping the restoration of the Executive need to get real. This impasse is leading to job losses and the removal of fundamental support for the most vulnerable people in society. It is disgraceful Mencap has been forced into this move.

“Everyone was aware the ending of the European Social Fund due to Brexit would be a disaster and we’re now seeing the outworkings of that, with vital services being ripped away. The Secretary of State and Departmental Permanent Secretaries need to come together to put a funding plan in place, in order to prevent hundreds of people with learning disabilities from being disadvantaged.”