Man receives written apology from provider of compulsory Stormont employment scheme

Phil McGerigal has received a written apology from People Plus after he was sent a letter incorrectly stating he had never attended any scheduled appointments. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

A DERRY man has received a written apology from a compulsory Stormont employment scheme after he was sent a letter claiming he never attended any scheduled appointments.

Phil McGerigal, from Derry city, lodged a formal complaint with the Department for Communities (DfC) about aspects of his experience with People Plus, which delivers the Steps 2 Success scheme in the north-west.

Launched in 2014, Steps 2 Success - in which failure to participate can lead to benefit sanctions - has faced criticism after figures showing that fewer than one in five were still in work a year after completing the scheme.

People Plus has already apologised to Mr McGerigal for wrongly telling him that he did not have a scheduled appointment when he presented himself at their office in May 2016, and he said he had no further "formal contact" after that dispute until he received an exit report in February this year.

The DfC investigation noted: "PeoplePlus NI is content to amend the exit report to reflect your participation on the programme and wishes to offer a sincere apology for incorrectly stating you did not attend any appointments. I have asked them to write to you to express this apology."

A "typing error" was blamed for another piece of correspondence sent to Mr McGerigal in which a man with whom he had never had any dealings was referred to as his employment advisor.

A spokeswoman for the department told The Irish News that it "takes all complaints about Steps 2 Success very seriously" and that "a thorough investigation is undetaken...and follow up actions closely monitored."

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