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Budget fails to dispel concern at rising poverty

16 March, 2005

Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has cautiously welcomed elements of the Budget announced today, particularly the focus on supporting people re-entering the workforce, but said that it fails dispel concerns about rising poverty levels.

Mr Molloy said:

"There are some very positive elements in this Budget particularly increases in childcare places, increased paid maternity leave, above inflation increases in child tax credit, increases in the Educational Maintenance Allowance, a £2,000 return to work bonus for single parents and a roll out of free bus travel for every senior citizen and disabled person. However, we will judge how this translates into increased resources for people here.

"Many will be concerned that the new rules to 'encourage' people off incapacity benefits and into the workforce will force people into low paid work and end up increasing the risk of poverty.

"While there is a feel good myth permeating almost everything new Labour touches the reality is that there are rising levels of poverty that have become entrenched. The majority of employment growth is concentrated in part-time, low skill, low paid and insecure service sector jobs. This is not dealing with the ever widening poverty gap, it is reinforcing it.

"The British government can spend almost a billion pounds a year here and almost £5 billion across the world on its war machine yet the sustained economic growth is masking growing poverty and inequality, particularly here." ENDS

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