SDLP Ballyarnett election candidate, Rory Farrell, has said ‘the North is next’ after it was revealed that the Tory Government is pressing ahead with the controversial Universal Credit roll-out.
Work & Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced on Monday that existing benefits claimants in Harrogate, Yorkshire will move to Universal Credit in July.
Universal Credit is a new benefit replacing Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Tax Credits. Up until now only new benefit claimants or those with a change in circumstances have been moved to Universal Credit.
This new announcement paves the way for all existing benefit claimants to transfer to Universal Credit. The Tory Government expects all claimants to be moved to Universal Credit by December 2023.
Mr Farrell said: "There are no good news stories about Universal Credit and the announcement by Amber Rudd will set alarms bells ringing across the North.
"This will ultimately affect thousands of people across Derry and Strabane.
"We have over 2,600 JSA claimants. Nearly 4,000 people on Income Support. And over 13,000 people in receipt of ESA. Not to mention the 16,000 families and individuals receiving tax credits.
"These are massive numbers of people and the looming introduction of Universal Credit will cause uncertainty and concern for every one of them.
"Universal Credit is the cornerstone of the Tory Government's Welfare Reform project. It was designed by the Tories, but delivered by the DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance. The SDLP voted against all welfare cuts and we continue to oppose on a daily basis."
"Universal Credit should be scrapped. It is causing untold damage in our communities and the sick, the unemployed and those on low incomes are paying the price."

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] or [email protected] at any time.