Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said the British Chancellor of the Exchequer is punishing those who are long term unemployed regardless of their circumstances.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Welfare added that job creation and reskilling programmes would be a more productive use of resources instead of forcing people to work for what can amount to £56 a week.
Speaking today Mr Brady said:
“The myth that the majority of those on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) are long term unemployed needs to be challenged. Eight out of ten people claiming this benefit, to which they are entitled, return to work within a year.
“The question then arises as to why some people do not. There are a myriad of reasons including ill health, lack of skills, mental health issues and more, which the British Chancellor has ignored.
“The quickest route to returning people to work is creating employment, and promoting skills through training schemes, not by forcing people into working for what can amount to £56 a week.
“Many of these jobs would be menial and not enhance skills, confidence or address the specific needs of those forced to undertake them. Given the fact that the current minimum wage is £6.31 an hour and the lowest rate of JSA is £56 does this mean that those who are forced to work would only have to work nine hours a week? I doubt this is the case.
“Essentially the British Chancellor is promoting a workhouse mentality. It is not a case of getting something for nothing as the millionaire George Osbourne is saying but a case of rights and entitlements.
“The British Chancellor would be better spending his time offering people the correct support and job opportunities that would help them find meaningful and long term, secure employment.”