Welfare Reform Bill meeting in Maghera

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SINN FÉIN are hosting a Welfare Reform Bill public information event tonight (Thursday) in Walsh’s Hotel, Maghera at 7.30pm.

The event is being hosted to provide information on the Welfare Reform Bill to the public and allow them to ask questions to the panellists who work on these issues day and daily.

Speakers include, DSD Committee Vice-Chair Mickey Brady MLA and Liam Mackle who worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, before taking up his present position with the Children’s Law Centre. The event will be chaired by Francie Molloy MLA.

Encouraging people to attend Francie Molloy MLA said: “The panel will highlight the main changes proposed in the Welfare Reform Bill and outline our major concerns about how many of the proposed measures, if implemented as currently designed, would represent an unacceptable attack on the living standards and well-being of our lowest income families and the most vulnerable sections of society here.

“These include outlining our concerns around proposed measures in benefit areas such as: Housing benefit-under-occupancy penalties, reduced eligibility criteria and problematic payment methods; Universal Credit -replacing Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related ESA, Housing Benefit, Child and Working Tax Credit with a single ‘Universal Credit’ with changing criteria governing eligibility for benefit; new work related activity requirements and an increased sanctions regime even for lone parents with no access to childcare; and a marked step up in targeting the disabled and sick by extending the flawed medical assessments which currently govern those applying for or who are in receipt of ESA , to the disabled as they apply for or are migrated to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is scheduled to replace DLA as an from April next year.

“With the Tory’s aiming to make 20% savings in terms of expenditure and caseload under ‘PIPs’ this will undoubtedly result in many genuinely disabled people losing or having their benefit cut in the same way many people who are genuinely sick are losing their entitlement to ESA.

“While the levels of benefits for the north are set in London, we re-iterate our party position that unless meaningful flexibilities and mitigating measures are secured to alleviate the harsher aspects of this Bill we will not be supporting it.”