Welfare ‘top-ups’ and scrappage motions tabled

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Sinn Féin will table a motion calling for welfare ‘top-ups’ to continue after March 2020 at the local council’s June meeting.

Councillor Christopher Jackson said: “In the face of an ongoing Tory attack on the welfare system and those most in need, it is vital that funding to offset these cuts continues.

“Almost £600 m in funding for the current welfare mitigation package was secured as part of the Fresh Start Agreement and has protected thousands of families here from the full extent of the Tory cuts agenda. The funding for that mitigation package is due to come to an end in March 2020 and Sinn Féin has been clear in urging all parties and the department, to ensure that a new package is put in place.”

Welfare reform was a recurring theme during the last council mandate. Sinn Féin, the DUP and Alliance were criticised by their opponents for giving legislative consent to the NI (Welfare Reform) Act in 2015 when power-sharing was on the verge of collapse. Sinn Féin has pointed to the delivery of £585m in tax credit and ‘bedroom tax’ top-ups until 2020.

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin said the scrappage of welfare reforms needed to made a red-line in talks to revive Stormont and will table a motion to this effect on Thursday.

“Derry and Strabane have an opportunity to send a loud and clear to those engaged in Stormont talks. This should be a red-line for all of us. Our Council must take a firm stance on this,” he said.