‘Poverty report proves the case for welfare mitigations’ - Maskey
The latest evidence showing the impact of anti-poverty measures here demonstrates the importance of protecting and building upon them, Sinn Féin Welfare Spokesperson Alex Maskey has said.
The West Belfast MLA was commenting after the Department for Communities published the latest ‘Households Below Average Income’ report which found that household income here is now at its highest level while income inequality is at its lowest.
Alex Maskey said: “While it is positive that this report is showing the number of people living in poverty here is at its lowest level in a decade, it also concludes that 16% percent of people are considered to be in relative poverty and 14% in absolute poverty.
“In a modern affluent society, no child or family should be living in poverty. So while there have been improvements, there is clearly still a huge deal of work to be done in order to lift all our people out of poverty. In particular, lone parent families and children continue to be at the highest risk.
“Poverty is a result of policy decisions and this report clearly highlights the need for a targeted anti-poverty strategy based on objective need in order to direct support and interventions where they are needed.
“It also underlines the need to ensure the benefit mitigation package we have in the North is continued beyond the planed end date of March 2020.
“The report is very clear that one of the reasons we have seen an improvement in the situation here is because of the £585 million benefits top-up scheme secured as part of the Fresh Start Agreement. Without it we would be witnessing the same kind of increased poverty and inequality seen in Britain where the Tories assault on the welfare state has been waged without any protections for the most vulnerable.
“Where anti-poverty measures such as these have been shown to work, they should be protected and built upon and Sinn Féin will continue to seek agreement from the department and the other parties to ensure that is the case.”