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Proposed benefit changes are not a ‘fair deal’ for vulnerable people.

10 December, 2008 - by Mickey Brady

Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh and party spokesperson on welfare issues, Mickey Brady, has slammed the current proposals that the British Government are attempting to bring forward with regards to benefit changes.

Speaking today Mr Brady said:

"These proposals that the British Government are attempting to bring forward surrounding benefit changes are definitely not a 'fair deal'. It will penalise the most vulnerable in society and make them jump through excessive hoops to receive what they should be entitled to. Targeting mothers with young children is particularity unacceptable and attacks the fabric of the family.

"The British government needs to explain in the current economic downturn where the extra jobs are coming from that they are attempting to force people into or what safeguards they are putting in place so that those who cannot find a job do not lose money.

"That the British Minister James Purnell stated that "virtually everyone has to do something in return for their benefits" is preposterous. Benefits are a safety net for those who have fallen into hardship or to protect families, not something to be earned.

"The simple fact is that jobs seekers allowance is little over £55 per week and income support amounts to not much more. How can these be reduced when the British government state that these are subsistence level payments? To face a reduction in these amounts will lead to further poverty.

"I also find it hard to believe that those who receive it would not like to avail of opportunities to work however the right conditions need to be in place before this can occur.

"What the British government should be investing in is making flexible working arrangements for families with children available and building these into everyday working practices, investing in skills and training programmes for those who have lost jobs due to the economic crisis and providing a much wider range of child care at much more affordable prices. These measures need to be enacted before any of the current proposals are even considered."

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