SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called on Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to find funding to retain the £20 weekly uplift for Universal Credit claimants.
The British Government plan to remove the uplift at the start of October, leaving every claimant £1,040 worse off a year.
Speaking in the Assembly Mr Durkan called for Minister Hargey to use her devolved welfare powers to find the money to continue the uplift if the situation cannot be resolved at Westminster.
The funding was initially introduced to help people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Said the Foyle MLA: “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.”Tags: