North is characterised by unacceptable and unsustainable levels of poverty
Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said that the economy of the north is characterised by unacceptable and unsustainable levels of poverty. She also called for procurement policy and local labour clauses to support the campaign to tackle poverty.
Speaking in the consideration stage of the debate on the Budget Ms Anderson called for a co-ordinated strategic response to tackling and eradicating poverty, disadvantage and discrimination. Ms Anderson said:
"Our economy in the North is characterised by unacceptable and unsustainable levels of poverty.
- 31% of 16 to 60 year olds lack paid work;
- 22% of the workforce is low paid;
- Nearly 25% of households are unable to afford adequate home heating;
- Nearly 100,000 children and 50,000 pensioners are living in income poverty; and
- There are 3,000 premature deaths per annum - people who die as a result of disadvantage and poverty.
"The unacceptable and unsustainable levels of poverty expose the extent of discrimination and disadvantage in our society.
"In the past we have had no control over our own resources. That left us with an economy with patterns that have year after year produced alarming evidence of intensifying inequality and disadvantage. We have to correct the huge infrastructural deficit resulting from the successive failures to invest in essential services - water, sewage, transport, hospitals and education.
"It is not good enough to allocate money year after year which results in patterns of inequality and disadvantage deepening.
"It is our commitment to addressing discrimination and disadvantage which is the very source of our opportunity to over come what is morally, also economically unsustainable. For example by looking at how all-public procurement expenditure can integrate economic and social requirements along with ring fencing projects, which directly impact on discrimination and poverty, are ways we can begin to reverse conditions, which have created 'the basket economy'.
"There is a huge budget for procurement and we need to agree measures such as local labour clauses which ensure that procurement meets equality conditions. For example companies which receive contracts meet base conditions which include good wages, employment of apprentices, and thus contribute to local indigenous economic welfare and growth.
"With our joint commitment to ending discrimination, and poverty, and securing human rights for all of four people, we can do this, together." ENDS