DUP commitment to tackling rural poverty questioned
West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has questioned the DUP’s commitment to tackling rural poverty following their decision to vote against a motion in the Assembly.
A member of the Agriculture committee Mr McAleer said,
“In the aftermath of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development's review of rural poverty we felt that this was an appropriate time to bring a motion to the Chamber calling for the current deprivation indices to be reviewed, taking into account the full extent of poverty and deprivation.
“In the course of our engagements with rural stakeholders including organisations such as the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), the Rural Development Council (RDC) and the Rural Community Network (RCN) we found a very strong view that the current method used by government underestimates the full extent of poverty in rural areas.
“The spatial method used in the North focuses mostly on concentrations of deprivation making it extremely difficult to use in rural settings where poverty is more dispersed.
“By using this method not a single rural Super Output Area features in the top 10% most deprived areas across the North and this could have implications for funding and anti-poverty initiatives.
“Other key issues raised was the low weighting allocated to the ‘Proximity to Services’ domain and the fact that the measures do not take account of the increased levels of expenditure associated with living in rural areas, such as the requirement to own at least one car.
“Bizarrely, the DUP members of the DARD committee supported the committee’s recommendation but were absent for the debate and voted against it when the motion came to the chamber on Monday.
“The importance of developing an accurate method to identify the extent of rural deprivation should not be underestimated.
“It affects the quality of people’s lives and the future development of rural areas and the DUP have let all rural people down on this issue by contradicting themselves and voting against this motion.”