A Derry based People Before Profit activist has said that Sinn Fein and the SDLP both bear responsibility for the introduction of Tory benefit cuts in the North.

Gavin Campbell said that people power campaigns are the key to halting policies hurting the most vulnerable.

Mr Campbell said: "Recent weeks have witnessed a war of words between Sinn Fein and the SDLP in the local press as both accuse the other of being complicit in the introduction of Tory welfare reforms here.

"Sinn Fein stood behind banners declaring their opposition to Tory welfare reforms but then passed a legislative consent motion with the DUP permitting Westminster to introduce attacks on the most vulnerable in our society

"The financial mitigations Sinn Fein obtained from the block grant to offset the impact of cuts here doesn't go anywhere near far enough to protect people from the whirlwind of disaster the Tories are now inflicting. The surge in food bank use tells us everything we need to know about how well people are being protected. Their 'no choice' claim just doesn't cut it.

"However, all the establishment parties here have been complicit in the introduction of austerity and the punishing benefit cuts targeting vulnerable people living in some of the most deprived regions of Europe. Let's not forget it was the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie as the DSD minister who proposed Incapacity Benefit be replaced with Employment Support Allowance. This change brought in the “fit for work” assessments by the private company ATOS. That legislation received 'accelerated passage' through the Stormont Assembly.

"The SDLP was also responsible for introducing legislation for the reductions in Housing Benefit that are the same as the Bedroom Tax for private tenants. Not that long ago the SDLP said they weren't necessarily opposed to welfare reform.

"Sinn Fein and the SDLP can bicker but the reality is that Stormont has failed to protect people from Tory austerity. Welfare reforms and a host of other cuts are hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The roll-out of Universal Credit across the North is designed to further cut benefits leading to more poverty, more deprivation and more people dependent on food banks.

"This is why People Before Profit is for a different way of doing politics based on people power campaigns. Communities can't depend on institutions like Stormont and promises from politicians to stop cuts but we have a better chance when we are mobilised in large numbers on our streets, in our communities, at work and in our schools.

"The toxic Tory government propped up by the equality repellent DUP won't be brought down by bickering by our local parties but it can be brought down by people powered movements here and across the water."

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