There were over 1,000 incidences of unemployed workers having their benefits stopped in Londonderry over a three year period between April 2012 and January of this year, it’s been revealed.
Sanctions were imposed on dole claimants on a total of 1,232 occasions in Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s worst unemployment black spot.
In Limavady, 467 benefit payments were imposed and in Strabane the figure was 210.
According to one of the Ministers with responsibilities relating to the dole, Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey: “All sanctions imposed [were] as a result of an adverse decision on benefit entitlement.”
Incredibly, unemployed people had part or all of their income stopped on almost 25,000 occasions across the whole of Northern Ireland.
“For this period, a total of 24,555 sanctions were imposed,” confirmed Mr Storey.
Dole claimants can have their benefits stopped for a variety of reasons under current rules.
Payments may be stopped if claimants don’t demonstrate to the satisfaction of dole officers that they are doing all they can to find work.
Your dole may also be cut off if you don’t participate in a work-for-your-benefit subsidised labour scheme.
There will also be sanctions if it’s found you were sacked for misconduct or left a job without a sufficiently good reason.
The North West suffers from high levels of chronic unemployment and economic inactivity.
The new Derry City and Strabane District Council area has the worst unemployment figures in Northern Ireland.
The most recent labour market report for Northern Ireland showed that the highest claimant count rates in April 2015 were in Londonderry and Strabane (7.1 per cent), Belfast (5.1 per cent) and Causeway Coast and Glens (3.7 per cent).
That said even Londonderry enjoyed a decrease in claimants over the last calendar year.
“All 11 Council Areas showed a decrease over year, with the largest decreases in Mid Ulster (28 per cent), Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (27.3 per cent) and Newry, Mourne and Down (24.8 per cent),” the report stated.
Figures for the whole of Northern Ireland showed that in April 2015 the total number of claimants in receipt of unemployment related benefits stood at 44,300 and had decreased by 900 over the month.
There was also a fall of 11,700 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.