Welfare cut will help save 150 NW jobs
SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland claimed supporting the Government’s welfare shake-up was vital in order to support 150 administration jobs in Londonderry.
His party colleague East Londonderry MLA Gregory Campbell inflated the figure to closer to 200 jobs.
Both were speaking in support of the Welfare Reform Bill, the second stage of which was passed at Stormont with support from the DUP, UUP and TUV last week.
The radical benefits shake-up will get rid of the means tested parts of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance as well as Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and the rent element of Housing Benefit replacing them with Universal Credit.
Under the changes sick or disabled people in receipt of Disabiliy Living Allowance (DLA) will have to checked by the authorities to see if they qualify for a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) during the period October 2013 to March 2016.
Mr Campbell claimed supporting the welfare rationalisation would support up to 200 local jobs administrating welfare benefits.
“Just over 1,300 of those people are in the greater Belfast area, and almost 200 are in the Londonderry area. Which of our MLAs, in whatever party, will go to those 1,500 people and say, ‘Because I voted in a particular way, your job is on the line?’
“I have done a little research into where those 1,500 people come from. They come from areas of very high unemployment. If they become unemployed, those areas will become areas of even higher unemployment, because we will have just voted in a particular way,” he said.
His stance was supported by the incumbent Minister for welfare in Northern Ireland, Mr McCausland.
He said: “People in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in London will get cries from constituencies across England, Scotland and Wales that say, ‘Why can the jobs not come to my region? We are part of the system; those people are out of step.’
“The fact is that those jobs are spread right across the Province. For example, about 150 are up in the north-west in the Londonderry area.
“Right across Northern Ireland, 1,500 people are working in that sector. Families receive income from those jobs, and breadwinners are reliant on them. I would not want to be the person who says to those 1,500 people, ‘Sorry if you lose your job. We were deferring, because we just wanted to keep talking about it.’” he said.
Alison Millar, Deputy General Secretary of Northern Ireland’s largest public sector union NIPSA stated: “At a time when unemployment is rising in Northern Ireland it is not appropriate that the Assembly are debating how to take £500m annually out of the NI economy.
“If this Bill is voted through then many more jobs in both the public and private sector will be lost. This cannot be allowed to happen.”
Ther union called on people to march against a range of austerity measures - including Welfare Reform - in Belfast on Saturday.
Ms Millar stated: “There has already been significant changes to various benefits in Northern Ireland including changes to the Child Tax Credit and Working Families Tax Credits in April this year which saw reductions in the amounts of tax credits received by hard working families.
“If this legislation is enacted then children and both in work and out of work families will in many cases be worse off. This has already been accepted by DSD Officials.”
Trade union members, the voluntary and community sector and the general public will be demonstrating against the current austerity measures in a march against austerity on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 11am from the Belfast Art College to Custom House Square.
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Weather for Londonderry
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North