The SDLP is today launching a campaign to stop the planned £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit.
The party has called on the British Government to reconsider its decision to take the £1,040 yearly uplift away from claimants at the start of October. In the absence of action in London, the SDLP has said that Sinn Féin Ministers Deirdre Hargey and Conor Murphy should step in and find the funding.
Welfare powers are devolved and it would cost just £55m, less than 0.5% of the Executive’s budget, to retain the uplift for the rest of the financial year. The Communities and Finance Ministers have a duty to protect the worst off in society and find this relatively small sum of money.
SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan said:
“The £20 weekly Universal Credit uplift was introduced to protect people who were struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately the pandemic is still going on, we are still seeing hospital admissions and deaths every single day and the economic fallout is far from over.
“134,070 people across the North are currently in receipt of Universal Credit and they cannot afford to give this money back, it has already been swallowed up by rising living costs. The cost of basic necessities is increasing, utility prices are up across the board leaving people struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes.
“Deirdre Hargey and Conor Murphy can do something about it. Rather than writing letters, they should be finding the resource to protect hard pressed families across Northern Ireland from this devastating cut to their income. Sinn Féin handed the Tories our welfare powers and stood back while they cut social security to the bone. It is about time they stepped up and found the £55m, less than 0.5% of our budget, to protect people here.
“People have been through a lot over the past two years, the pandemic has put pressure on people’s physical and mental health, with many families pushed to the brink. The removal of this money could not come at a worse time, after many parents have been hit by huge costs as children return to school and right before Christmas. The British Government is letting our people down once again, the least we can do is try to thwart their efforts through any means possible. I’d be urging everyone, be they politicians, business leaders, community stakeholders and everyone with a social conscience to support our campaign and sign our petition to retain this uplift for the people who need it most."
The SDLP's petition can be found at: https://www.sdlp.ie/giveitback