Universal Credit uplift cut will hit the poorest in Mid Ulster

Thousands of families in Mid Ulster will be hard hit if the £20 weekly Universal Credit uplift is cut.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 9:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 9:59 am

Local SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said it would impact hundreds of people and would cause hardship to the poorest in our community.

Mr McGlone said it was coming at a very difficult time just as the furlough scheme was ending and many did not know whether they would have a job to go back to.

Figures from the Department for Communities show there are 1,800 claimant in Cookstown, 2,910 in Magherafelt and 3,880 in Dungannon.

Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone.

It is estimated the cut would remove thousands of pounds from the local economy and will have a knock-on effect on businesses trying to recoup losses incurred during the pandemic.

Mr McGlone made his comments as his party launched its ‘Give it Back’ campaign calling for the uplift to be retained.The campaign is urging Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Finance Minister Conor Murphy to fund the uplift if the government proceeds to scrap it.

Mr McGlone continued: “At a time when many families are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table, as we emerge from a global pandemic, the decision from the British government to take this money away from people beggars belief.

“Many of the people in receipt of this benefit are working and will be seriously impacted.

“When others wanted to hand welfare powers off to the Tories, the SDLP fought hard for the North to have them devolved because we knew it was needed to protect our people from punitive cuts.

Long-term strategy

“The time has come for Minister Hargey to use those powers and go to her Sinn Féin colleague Conor Murphy and insist he finds the £55m to continue the uplift for the rest of the financial year. It’s the least they can do to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We also need to see a long-term strategy from Minister Hargey to address poverty in areas like Mid Ulster, with the North shamefully having some of the worst levels of poverty in all of Europe.

“I would urge people to come together to sign our petition and support our campaign to save this uplift for the people who really need it.”

The Universal Credit uplift is expected to officially end on October 6 but the exact date people will continue to receive payments will vary depending on the day you usually receive universal credit.

The £20 weekly increase in payments for those claiming universal credit and working tax credits was introduced during the start of lockdown.

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