SDLP vow to block hated bedroom tax

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

Local difficulties with the bedroom tax are a reality which will not go away, SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has warned.

Mr Durkan was speaking after comments by Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Mike Penning, on the implementation of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Mr. Durkan stated: “London resists facing up to the different circumstances in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland faces the possibility of millions of pounds in penalties should the Executive fail to introduce the Bill.

Mr. Durkan said: “We will not be dictated to by London just because the DUP Minister cannot be bothered to find a better way, our own way, for reform in this region.

“We will keep campaigning to block the welfare cuts as they are aimed at making the poorest people poorer. Their impact creates debt, hunger, fear and stress. Too much welfare reform is bad for people and the most vulnerable of people. This is why the parties here should not be ‘bounced’ by Mike Penning and the Treasury.”

Mr. Durkan branded the so called bedroom tax a “folly that would hurt most in the North due to the segregated character of housing and smaller percentage of single bed homes.”

“This reality won’t go away, no matter what London wishes. I will not stop campaigning to block the bedroom tax as I know the devastating impact it will have locally.

“The Treasury warns of ‘financial consequences’ of delay on welfare reform. Many of the reforms have already been pushed back to 2015, some until after the next Westminster election.

“If there is already delay in Britain, then we don’t need to rush here, instead of welfare cuts we need to use this time to introduce right, fair reform which benefits local people and our local economy.

“The way to defeat this is to dig deep, negotiate harder, and not to concede ground. We in SDLP have always believed we need to make devolution count and we need to stand up for our people.

“It is clear that the Department of Works and Pensions in London has the measure of the Department of Social Development in Belfast. They do not have the measure of the SDLP.”