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McCausland shirking responsibility to protect disadvantaged and less well off - Maskey

13 November, 2013 - by Alex Maskey

Sinn Féin Social Development spokesperson, Alex Maskey MLA has said that the comments from Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland are disingenuous.

Setting out his Party’s position on Welfare Reform, Mr Maskey said;

“Sinn Féin is opposed to the Tory led cuts agenda. It is an attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, particularly those with a disability”.

“While benefit payments are decided at Westminster, all parties to the Executive have a responsibility to seek protections for the less well off. The Social Development Minister has a particular responsibility in this regard.

“The record will show that the DSD Minister has sought from the outset to rush this agenda through the Assembly. Mr McCausland introduced his Bill over a year ago.

“Sinn Féin opposed the Bill in its early stages and we did so publicly. We identified the problems with the Bill and the cuts agenda. That remains our position.

“In the months after this we engaged the DUP Minister and his party in an attempt to identify potential mitigation measures which might redress the harsher aspects of the Tory cuts agenda.

“We proposed a number of measures including a resolution to the Bedroom Tax. This can be addressed without proceeding with the Bill.

“We have raised a number of other matters.

“Our discussions with the DUP have concluded without agreement on some significant matters including, the impact of Disability Premiums being withdrawn; the Benefit Cap which if applied here will push over 3,000 children into poverty; the Sanctions Regime which would see people lose their benefit for up to 3 years.

“We have also raised all of these matters with the British government including our opposition to the cuts agenda and the negative impact that it will have on many within society here.

“The Executive parties have a responsibility to continue to press for a different approach.

“The DSD Minister would do well to note the ongoing court findings against aspects of the Welfare Reform Act in England. The court declaration that the abolition of the Independent Living Fund, which the DSD Minister includes as part of his Bill, is unlawful is a case in point and a demonstration that we have more work to do in agreeing the right approach to this agenda.”

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