Foyle MLA andSDLP Social Justice Spokesperson, Mark H Durkan, has challenged Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, to do more to alleviate the financial hit suffered by those claiming Universal Credit
SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson, Mark H Durkan, has challenged Sinn Féin Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, to find funding to retain the £20 weekly uplift for Universal Credit claimants.
The Foyle MLA was speaking in light of the British Government's plans to abolish the uplift next month – a move that will leave those in Derry on Universal Credit £1040 worse off a year.
The £20 uplift had been put in place last year to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now it is being rescinded and Mr Durkan has urged the Minister to use her devolved welfare powers to find the money to continue the uplift if the situation cannot be resolved at Westminster.
He said: “The consequences of removing this uplift will be catastrophic for the worst off in our society.
“The £20 uplift was a welcome move during the pandemic, the extra £1,000 plus per year made a real difference to people, but now it is going to be cruelly taken away by the British Government at a time when utility costs are soaring and the furlough scheme is set to end.
“This cannot be allowed to happen unchallenged, Boris Johnson wants to take money out of people’s pockets at a time when reliance on food banks is at an all-time high and homelessness is rising and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has done little to stop him.
“So far Minister Hargey has written a letter to the British Government calling for the uplift to be retained, while that's welcome it will provide little comfort to people who face having this much needed funding ripped away from them.
“She can do more and she must do more. If Westminster insists on proceeding with this draconian cut we need to see action from the Communities Minister to work with her Executive colleagues, particularly Finance Minister Conor Murphy, to find the funding to continue the uplift for the rest of the financial year.
“She must also commit to a long-term strategy to tackle the shameful levels of poverty across the North which remain among the highest in Europe.”
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