SSA work maybe privatised

SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland has not ruled out out-sourcing Social Security Agency (SSA) administration work to private companies such as Xerox in the near future.

Asked if private scanning contracts would be handed out to private companies by Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan, the Minister didn’t rule out the possibility.

Mr Durkan asked if the SSA “plans to out-source administration work to private companies such as Xerox in the near future as a result of the changes in the benefits systems.” The Minister said various options will be considered.

He stated: “Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit require a strategic scanning and digital storage solution. This will be the subject of a business case evaluation which will consider the options available and recommend the most appropriate way forward to meet the SSA’s business needs.”

An ongoing SSA Customer First Initiative, now into its third phase, will see the centralisation of benefit processing in a number of Belfast and Londonderry Social Security Offices.

This is planned to be completed by Autumn 2012. Further phases will incorporate new processing centres in Lurgan, Dungannon, Newry, Armagh and Enniskillen.

The Sentinel recently revealed how DSD spent nearly a quarter of a million pounds doing up Strabane’s social security office within the last two years only to later downgrade it to ‘front-line office only’ status and move 37 staff to Londonderry.

The £220k refurbishment took place during 2010/11 and was necessary on health and safety and equality grounds, the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland revealed.