Mallon: UN report damning on ‘sanitised workhouses’ of welfare reform
The party’s Deputy Leader said: “The description of welfare reform by Professor Alston as ‘a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse, made infamous by Charles Dickens’ is completely accurate and those who created this system and voted it in need to be held to account”
She said: “This report reflects the harsh life so many people, especially women, children, the disabled and low income working families, are having to endure because of the Tories ideologically driven assault on public services and the poor.
“A healthy and prosperous society requires a safety net for those who fall on hard times. Yet the Tories have been deliberately cutting away at this safety net year after year. Austerity is not a necessity. It is an ideological choice and the Tories are choosing to balance the books not on multi million pound tax evaders but on those who are least able to bear it.
“The shameful reality is that in Northern Ireland in 2019 we have 292,000 adults and 85,000 children living in poverty. In my constituency in North Belfast between April 2018 and April 2019, over 1,500 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis by one food bank, with over 650 of these going to children. This is the true outworkings of welfare ‘reform’. It isn’t empowering people into work, it is pushing them further into poverty and despair. This is all before the full impact of Brexit is felt.
“This UN report makes for deeply uncomfortable reading for those who support welfare ‘reform’ but we cannot allow them to dismiss it. As a society we cannot allow survival by food banks, increasing levels of poverty, homelessness, debt and despair to be normalized or denied. It is shameful we do not have a government and Assembly here to help protect people. That is why tackling poverty remains a key priority for the SDLP in this latest Talks process and why we believe it must be a key priority in the Program for Government in any new Executive”.