Trade unionists have urged people onto the streets on the day Universal Credit (UC) goes live on Derry’s west bank after it was estimated cumulative benefit cuts since 2010 cost the city £64 million - or £900 per head.
Derry Trades Union Council is holding a protest rally in Guildhall Square at 1 p.m on February 7 and is inviting all trade unions, political parties, community groups and individuals to take part.
DTUC Chair Liam Gallagher said welfare changes have not only affected those who need payments to live, they’ve taken tens of millions out of the Derry economy.
“While all the media coverage has, understandably, concentrated on families claiming benefits who can be left for weeks without any income its introduction will affect everyone living on a low income because it will also impact on working tax credits,” he said.
“Anyone who has been following what has happened across the water will know that while some unemployed people have been left destitute by UC, many who are in work have also been left penniless by the new system. Self-employed people like taxi drivers, freelancers, etc., have found that, far from ‘making work pay’ as UC was supposed to do, the way UC works means that they are unable to make ends meet anymore.
“The impact of this latest lot of welfare cuts on the Derry City and Strabane Council area is worse than any other part of Northern Ireland. In fact, it is estimated that the city will lose £64 million p.a. in income as a result of cumulative changes to welfare benefits since 2010. The estimates, from experts at Sheffield Hallam University, indicate that this is the equivalent of every adult of working age in the council area losing £900 p.a,” he said.