Communities Minister Paul Givan today announced a £3.36million development plan for a new Downpatrick Jobs & Benefits Office based in Rathkeltair House, Downpatrick.
Rathkeltair House is currently home to Downpatrick JobCentre and the Social Security Office is located at 9-11 Mount Crescent. Rathkeltair House will be refurbished to provide a multi-purpose government facility that will include employment and benefits services.
Viewing the floor plans for the new development, the Minister said: “I am pleased to announce the redevelopment of Rathkeltair House which will provide the people of Downpatrick and the surrounding area with a modern single office for employment and benefit services.
“The coming together of the two offices will also provide improved service provision for local people by providing assistance and guidance into employment and support on work and welfare issues.”
The redevelopment of Rathkeltair House is being undertaken in partnership with the Department of Finance with construction planned to commence in March 2017 and complete in January 2018. The offices, which will also house other civil service functions, will then be fitted out and open for business from April 2018.
The Minister added: “This announcement also reflects the regionally dispersed nature of my Department’s Working Age Service with the Jobs & Benefits Office network throughout Northern Ireland having a central role in the delivery of the future welfare changes, including Universal Credit, in a way that fully supports our claimants.”
Margaret Ritchie, Member of Parliament for the area said: “I am delighted with this investment in Rathkeltair House. This will result in a modernised building with enhanced customer service facilities that will help to address barriers to employment, and contributing to addressing poverty and social deprivation.
“In addition, staff members in the new facility will be able to avail of new, modern surroundings and all of the benefits that this will bring. A wider impact will be a welcome boost to the local economy, and will mark a further step in the regeneration of Downpatrick town.
“I am looking forward to the commencement of work and meeting the staff and customers who will be assured of better facilities as a result.”
Total construction cost for the entire project is £3.36million with the Department for Communities providing £1.76million (52.4%) and the Department of Finance providing £1.60million (47.6%).
It is expected the contract for the work will be awarded prior to Christmas.