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Attwood must protect the vulnerable in Welfare Reform Bill

28 September, 2010 - by Mickey Brady

Sinn Féin MLA and welfare spokesperson Mickey Brady has stated that all must be done by the Social development minister to ensure that under the Welfare Reform Bill the most disadvantaged are not impacted negatively upon.

Speaking at today motion in the Assembly Mr Brady said :

“The welfare reform bill is one of the most significant changes to the benefit systems since its inception in 1948.

The legislation will have far reaching consequences for those in receipt of benefits and there are strong concerns that it will most definitely attack those most vulnerable in society who rely on benefits to survive or as a safety net. This includes lone parents, those suffering from mental illness or learning difficulties, those caring for an aging relative or the long term unemployed.

What we need to see in regard to the north of Ireland is that, in the formation of this legislation due regard is given to the special social and economic realities of the north, in order that the proposed welfare reforms do not have a disproportionately negative impact.

While we have assurances from the Minster for Social Development, Alex Attwood, that he will attempt to stretch the flexibility of parity to the limit’ this is inadequate if it is legislated in such a way that disallows this.

What we need to see is a stronger and more robust approach by the Minister in order to ensure that there are protections and safeguards that take into account the economic and social circumstances that we face locally, on daily basis.

If this line of action is not carried through by the Minister it would be doing a gross disservice to those who society should protect , the most vulnerable and this cannot be allowed to happen. “ CRÍOCH

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