Despite there being over 100,000 deaths across these islands and more than 2 million deaths worldwide, there are still people who deny that we are in a global pandemic.
There are also people who still maintain that we are “all in this together” There are even some who don’t accept that Coronavirus has become a class issue.
Maybe the later group will think again when they see the Department of Communities draft budget proposals that seek to take away £1.5m from Advice NI, Northern Ireland’s foremost network provider of information, support and advice.
The proposals also mean cuts in assistance for people on benefits and to homelessness funding. Thousands of people are at risk of being forced into poverty.
Advice NI – which has been helping to deliver the Executive’s Covid telephone hotline service – estimates that up to 45 of its staff are at risk of unemployment.
If implemented the immediate and longer term effects on the most vulnerable people in this society will be catastrophic. Access to professional advice on employment, debt, benefits and housing during this pandemic has been a life line for many individuals and families. It continues to be so. The reassurance and relief provided by the Advice NI network also contributes to a reduction in fear, anxiety and mental health problems.
The vast majority of those clients are from working class families and areas. Their access to resources and support are already limited. The existing pressures they living under are immense.
To even suggest withdrawing access to what little advice and support is available is reprehensible.
Talking of a united approach to defeating C19 and talk of safeguarding people’s mental health means nothing when measures like these are proposed. Actions speak much louder than words.
The Workers Party will be making a robust submission to the Department of Communities arguing rigorously in support of increased funding for Advice NI and other advice services, financial protection for people on benefits, the extension of the Universal Credit £20 uplift as well as making it permanent , and increased funding for those working with homeless people and people with poor mental health.