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Benefit Consultation or PR exercise? - Brady

25 January, 2012 - by Mickey Brady

Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh, Mickey Brady, has serious concerns about a survey being currently carried out by the Social Development Department. 1,000 households are being asked their views on the introduction of Universal Credit, the cornerstone of the British government’s Welfare Reform agenda.

Speaking today Mr Brady said:

“I believe this consultation document paints a too rosy a picture, describing a seamless transfer to Universal Credit while failing to highlight the many difficulties Welfare Reform as a whole will present to many people. The British government has claimed that no one will lose out as a result of the transfer of a raft of benefits into a single credit but, even where entitlement stays the same, there are changes that will present difficulties.

“Payment to a single member of the household, the so called transfer from purse to wallet, will increase the dependency of many women within the family and maybe detrimental to their children. A monthly payment might be fine for those fortunate enough to command a decent salary but for those on benefit it will increase the hardship of families trying to stretch a meagre income across four weeks instead of two. There are also concerns about the heavy reliance on IT systems to administer Universal Credit, systems where the primary contact with customers will be via the internet, which maybe fine until something goes wrong.

“But this is the tip of the iceberg. If the British government’s Welfare Reform was about delivering a fairer, simpler and more transparent system we would all welcome it. Unfortunately this Tory-led government is intent upon targeting some of the poorest and most vulnerable by making welfare reform part of their austerity drive.

“This consultation process is no more than a PR exercise to solicit consent to the imposition of Tory cuts.”

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