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Benefit Changes – Window Dressing

5 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly election candidate Martina Anderson has said that plans to be unveiled today by Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton to force single parents return to work when their child reaches 11 and other planned reforms to the benefits system are wrong and that these proposals will once again take the focus off the incompetence of successive British Governments to deal with decades of under investment in job creation, child care provision and a proper benefits system

Ms Anderson said:

"Today's announcement by the British Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton that once again they are going to tinker with the benefits system shows just how far detached those in the top level of Government departments are from the daily realities facing tens of thousands of households across the North.

"What this announcement means is that people who are already on the breadline and those who are the most marginalised in society will be faced with more form filling, more interviews, more distress, all of which will nether enhance or improve their quality of life but will have the opposite effect of removing what little security they have.

"It's always those on low income, one parent families, and the disabled who suffer from changes to the benefits system, which a lot of time is just window dressing to keep a section of the right wing press in England happy.

"Government Ministers would be better spending their time being more proactive in targeting areas of social need and creating the circumstances for jobs, investment and putting in place the infrastructure to make that happen. There needs to be proper childcare and after school clubs. There needs to be better rates of pay so that people can re-enter the job market on a level playing field.

"It will only be when the Assembly is back up and running that we will be able to counter today's proposed measures along with issues which really affect people's lives, be it water charges, rural development, poverty, rate hikes, the care of the elderly or health and education." ENDS

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