Every person of working age in Derry will lose almost £1,000 per year under the British Government’s welfare reforms, new research suggests.
The report, The Impact of Welfare Reform on Northern Ireland, carried out by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and commissioned by Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), estimates the reforms - not yet fully implemented - will take £750m a year out of the Northern Ireland economy, equivalent to £650 a year for every adult of working age.
But by 2014, in Derry that figure will stand at £900.
Derry SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the “vast majority of Derry people want to work, they want to build lives for their families.”
“I challenge the Tory Government to look to the streets of Derry, look at the numbers applying for positions in our local stores when any jobs become available,” he said.
Across the whole UK only Blackpool will be harder hit than Derry.
The research suggests the North West will be particularly hard hit with Strabane set to lose £870 per working age adult and Limavady £730.
Seamus McAleavey, NICVA Chief Executive , said “The facts in this report make for stark reading for everyone in Northern Ireland – whether they receive benefits or not.
“Not only will Northern Ireland fair much worse than anywhere else as a result of welfare reform but we will also be even pushed further down the ladder when it comes to levels of prosperity across the UK.
“At a time when many commentators are beginning to report that the economy is turning a corner, the impact of the removal of £750m spending power has the potential to undo any positive developments.
“We are calling on government to urgently convene a high level group of government, business, local traders and the voluntary and community sector to work together to develop a robust series of actions to protect the delicate process of economic recovery in Northern Ireland,” he said.