The introduction of Tory welfare reforms across the North has been a disaster, Waterside People Before Profit candidate Maeve ‘O’Neill has said.
She said that People Before Profit had warned the big parties that the consequences would be dire if Stormont voted to bring in Universal Credit, PIP, the two-child limit and the Bedroom Tax back in 2015.
“We were ignored and the brutal policies designed to destroy the welfare safety net are here,” she said.
“The roll-out of Universal Credit has been suspended but its dismal impact has forced the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee to announce they have launched a joint inquiry.
“Some foolishly insisted financial mitigations would protect the vulnerable and low paid here - but that hasn’t happened. Welfare reforms have ripped through communities. 1500 hundred people in Derry are trapped on Universal Credit.
“Tens of thousands have been put through the PIP gauntlet The two-child limit is taking food out of families mouths. Nearly 200 people are already paying the Bedroom Tax in the North but that will change to tens of thousands when top-up payments end next year.”
Maeve O’Neill said the Inquiry must lead to action.
“This inquiry shouldn’t be used as a box ticking exercise by those responsible for introducing welfare reforms to play down the impact of these so-called reforms,” she warned.
“We already know these policies are causing harm.
“People are worse off. People have lost benefits. They have caused immense distress. Food bank dependence and debt have grown. And it will get much worse unless we force a change of direction from below.”
ON THE STREETS
“We should answer the inquiry on the streets,” she said, adding:
“Our goal should be to see these consciously cruel policies completely abolished. A grassroots people power movement can push to have welfare reforms completely overturned and replaced with a humane alternative. We can’t depend on an inquiry and those who brought in welfare reforms to bring about change - we have to do it ourselves.”