No viable alternative to Income Support will disadvantage those who are most vulnerable - Brady
Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on Welfare, Mickey Brady, has stated that the proposed phasing out of Income Support will affect those who are most in need of support and has raised concerns of the capacity of the Social Security offices to carry out such a task.
Speaking today Mr Brady said:
“Under the Welfare Reform bill the intention is to phase out income support. This is worrying as currently there exists no viable alternative.
“For the 76,000 people who will be switched from Income Support and Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) they will have to face a raft of extra complexities under ESA, in an already complex system.
“For example full time carers who rely on Income Support to compliment their Carers Allowance will under ESA have to undergo a work capabilty assessment. They may then have to move to Jobs Seekers Allowance on regularly or prove they are incapable of working or loose their benefits as no viable alternative exists to Income Support has been suggested.
“A further concern is the capacity to implement the change-over from Income Support to ESA as it will place a huge strain on Social Security staff. In an economic climate where more and more people are presenting as long term unemployed we see cuts in staff numbers pushing current staff structures to stress levels not experienced before.
“This shift will only exacerbate this pressure in an under resourced department in which more job cuts are expected.
“Essentially there is little in this new benefit to alleviate the needs of the most maginalised in our society and as things stand circumstances for those seeking benefits will only worsen under this bill.”