Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland
SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon MLA has hit out at the Department for Communities after an official accused the SDLP of ‘scaremongering’ in relation to the new Universal Credit system being rolled out in parts of Belfast today.
Responding to comments made by the Departmental official this morning on Good Morning Ulster, the MLA for North Belfast said:
“It is unacceptable for a civil servant to accuse elected representatives, who are articulating the genuine concerns of their constituents, of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘worrying claimants unnecessarily.’
“The Department for Communities may ‘be pleased with how things are going’ and think it is acceptable for people to go through a daunting process to be left waiting a minimum of five weeks for their first payment, with no help from the Department except an offer of further debt. We do not and we make no apology for saying so. We will not stand silently when a double amputee is made to travel every fortnight to a job centre to look for work. We will not turn our backs when a vulnerable individual, unable to read and write, has their request for a telephone based application blankly refused. We will not stand idly by when a mother, after losing her job, is pushed into £1000 of rent arrears when she was never a penny in arrears before universal credit.
“By the Department for Communities own admission, when Universal Credit is fully rolled out, claimants in Northern Ireland will be £105 million worse off every year. The SDLP will not be silenced when it comes to speaking up for people and asking questions about a welfare system focused more on reducing the welfare bill rather than protecting and empowering the most vulnerable in society.”