It follows confirmation from Department for Communities officials that a bid has been made to the Finance Department for up to 900 additional staff to deal with the increase in claims for benefits.
There was a 128% increase in claims between 16 March and 10 July, with an additional 89,250 adults applying for Universal Credit within that period.
The Foyle MLA said: “We are braced for 12% to 14% unemployment over the next few months – that is 125,000 people potentially out of work.
“Confirming that our benefit system is likely to face even greater demand than the lockdown in March.
“The reality is that we will see many people who have worked their entire lives, clueless as to what the benefit system entails and how to navigate it, be forced to make claims in the weeks ahead.
“Therefore, the bid for 900 additional staff to deal with this increased backlog will come as little surprise and I would expect the Finance Minister to provide that funding to ensure claims are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“However, I was surprised that the Department has not made any bids for additional office space or administrative costs for these 900 extra staff.
“Their analysis was that 1,400 additional staff were required yet they appear to be under-recruiting.
“In the week we have learnt that unemployment is expected to rise to the highest levels since the 1990s, the job opportunities this recruitment drive will create must be distributed across the North to the areas that need it most.
“This in turn will help to ensure that the areas with the greatest need for Jobs and Benefit office services also get the employment opportunities that will arise from this expansion.
“I have sought clarity from the Minister as to where these positions will be located. “Tags: