29th February 2012
at Assembly Failure to Oppose Unfair Welfare Cuts
SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has
expressed concern at the Assembly’s failure to support an SDLP motion
calling on the Executive to make opposition to a wide range of the UK
Government’s welfare cuts and changes their highest priority. The motion was
narrowly defeated by 44 votes to 38 after a debate in the Assembly chamber.
Speaking afterwards Mr McGlone said, “By failing to support the SDLP motion
calling on the Executive to take a stronger stand against the cuts to
welfare the Assembly is failing the most vulnerable in our society. Those
people are already suffering because of welfare cuts, many of which are
being imposed prior to the introduction of universal credit.
“Cuts to Housing Benefit are resulting in increasing levels of homelessness;
people with debilitating physical conditions and mental illnesses are being
told that they are capable of working, even though there are no jobs, and
more and more vulnerable people are having their benefits cut.
“However, with the imposition of the Welfare Reform Bill this situation is
going to become even more desperate. Disability Living Allowance will be cut
by 20%, by £160 million in total.
“Last year, in Mid Ulster alone, 10,160 people were receiving Disability
Living Allowance, 540 Severe Disablement Allowance and 2,940 Attendance
Allowance. A further 3,230 people were in receipt of Incapacity Benefit and
1,360 Employment and Support Allowance.
“5,990 people received Housing Benefit, 5,640 Pension Credits and 3,840
“The Bill will also hit working families on low incomes who will be affected
by the changes to working tax credits. Some of the changes could lead to a
reduction of as much as £4,000 a year for those families.
“The SDLP does not oppose the idea of simplifying the social security
system. We do not oppose welfare reform, but we do oppose unfair reform.
That is why we proposed that all parties in the Assembly formed an ad hoc
working group to go through the welfare changes line by line.
“It is disappointing that other parties would not support the SDLP’s call to
prioritise opposition to the unfair welfare cuts and changes.
“We will continue to press the Executive and the British government to seek
greater operational and legal flexibility in how welfare reform is enacted
here. Our objective remains the protection of those vulnerable members of
our society who are most at risk from the cuts to welfare provision.”
Notes to Editors:
Number of welfare recipients by constituency