The Workers Party spokesperson for West Belfast, Conor Duffy, has accused Executive Ministers Deirdre Hargey and Conor Murphy of ‘a callous disregard for low paid workers and people in receipt of benefits’ as the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit payments comes to an end this week.
“It is simply unacceptable that the Communities Minister and the Finance Minster sit on their hands while over 135,000 local people face additional financial hardships with the withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift introduced to help offset the additional costs of the pandemic”, he said.
“We are still in the grip of Covid and many thousands of workers are facing uncertainty and insecurity as the furlough scheme also ends. More than one third of Universal Credit claimants are working but their take home pay is not enough to cover the basics. As energy costs soar and the £20 lifeline is withdrawn many thousands of people across Northern Ireland will be faced with a ‘heat or eat’ dilemma”, Conor said
“In the past eighteen months food bank usage has more than doubled, thousands of people on low pay and those on benefits have incurred rising debts and the already shocking levels of poverty and social deprivation have been compounded”, said Conor.
“The withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift payment will hit families, children and many single parents particularly hard. The Executive parties must act now, not simply to secure the current level of benefit payment, but to prevent further increases in food and fuel poverty, social deprivation and the resultant effects on physical and mental health”, concluded Conor.