Brady – Stop witch hunt of benefit recipients
Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on welfare, Mickey Brady has said it is high time to end the witch hunt against benefit recipients following announcements of benefit cuts under the welfare reform bill.
Speaking today Mr Brady said:
“The ongoing witch hunt against benefit recipients must not go unchallenged. The Tory government right down to sensationalist media programs are painting all those on benefits as spongers, dossers and fraudsters.
“If they were to take an honest and realistic approach to this issue then the facts could clearly be exposed and the myth of benefit fraud would be ended.
“If we take for example people who receive child benefit on income support, income support is reduced by the amount of child benefit received. This is not an additional payment making it extremely difficult for low income families.
“Disability Living Allowance is the least fraudulent benefit with less that 0.01% being fraudulent claims yet constant attention is focused upon this particular benefit.
“The issue of carers is even more scandalous. Carers save the British government £3bn per year by only receiving £53.90 for a 35 hour minimum week. This works out at £1.30 an hour, one quarter of the minimum wage. If carers earn one penny over £95 outside of these payments their benefit is stopped.
“Little focus however is placed on the fact that last year clerical error or mistakes in payments cost £32 million a saving that we should really be striving for instead of punishing the vulnerable.
“The DSD Minister has made much of his contacts with the British secretary for work and pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, whose proposed reforms can only lead to further hardship for those most in need.
“Despite the concerns being spoken off by Alex Attwood, theDSD minister is preparing to migrate 76,000 claimants from incapacity to jobs seekers at a time when there is no jobs with a prolonged recession and job opportunities that are almost none existent.
“We already have one of the poorest welfare systems in Europe,a mechanism that is a safety net for those in society who really need it. What we need to see now is a clear and concise argument from the Minister which includes concrete proposals of how he protect the vulnerable and fight these cuts.”