Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan: "The Communities Minister initially refused my request for a recognition payment for the sector but eventually made a u-turn on that decision in July."
A recognition payment of up to £500 will be made to Derry's Supporting People & Homelessness staff.
The payment, which has been confirmed by the Department for Communities, will be made to staff over the next few weeks.
Foyle MLA and SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has welcomed the announcement but revealed that it took a u-turn last July from the Department's minister, Deirdre Hargey, in July to ensure that workers would get what was due to them.
He said: “I am pleased that the £500 recognition payment for Supporting People and Homelessness staff will finally be made in the coming weeks.
“This payment was announced in July after months of campaigning from myself others. The Communities Minister initially refused my request for a recognition payment for the sector but eventually made a u-turn on that decision in July.
“I'm glad these staff will finally get the recognition they so richly deserve after an incredibly tough period during the pandemic.
“However, this payment does not change the fact that the Supporting People sector is at breaking point.
“The failure to increase funding over the last decade is unacceptable and has had a detrimental impact on both service providers and service users.
“These staff support some of the most vulnerable and at risk groups in society and over the pandemic their workload has increased dramatically.
“In 15 years the programme has not witnessed any increase in funding or improvements in pay and conditions for its workers, that is absolutely shameful.
“The vital and dangerous work staff in this sector do can’t be taken for granted.
“Many within this sector are there to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people, but their current working conditions are damaging to morale and wellbeing, particularly when they’re being paid a pittance.
“The high turnover of staff further underlines a sector in desperate need of reform.
“Despite these challenges the Minister’s move will be a welcome token for many staff who are struggling.
“I will continue to push for an increase in funding and improvement of pay conditions for the benefit of staff, service providers and service users.”
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