End poverty exclusion for disabled people, says Derry councillor

Shaun Harkin

A Derry councillor has said disabled people have been hardest hit by welfare reform during Disabilities Week.

This week marked International Celebration of Persons with Disabilities Week.

People Before Profit Cllr and Foyle Westminster candidate Shaun Harkin said: “This year, the focus of the International Day is disabled people’s participation in society. It’s important to recognise that the main barrier to participation for many disabled people is poverty. Families with a disabled member are twice as likely to be living in poverty as other families. 

"It is disabled people that have been hardest hit by welfare reforms. Families with a disabled member more likely to be in receipt of social security benefits. 

"Major welfare reforms have included the introduction of Universal Credit which has no disability element, PIP that is deliberately designed to reduce disability benefit expenditure by 20%, greater benefit conditionality, and benefit sanctions.

"Last week’s report on the welfare Mitigations scheme showed that almost two thirds of mitigation payments were related to disability benefits. Yet there is little talk of disability mitigations being extended. Instead, the focus is on the Bedroom Tax and the benefit cap. 

"We want to see all these cruel policies scrapped but if mitigations are extended they need to include everyone who has lost out under welfare reform. 

"This week, People Before Profit is calling on the Department for Communities to include disabled people in the extension of the mitigations scheme."

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