Green Leader only North Down MLA to oppose welfare cuts

Green Party MLA Steven Agnew was the only North Down political representative to oppose welfare cuts in the Assembly.

Today’s debate on welfare reforms called on the Assembly to negotiate with the UK Government to ensure that the impact of those reforms did not greatly disadvantage the most vulnerable in our society.

Had the other North Down MLAs voted for the motion it would have passed, therefore giving the Northern Ireland Executive a mandate to enter into negotiations with the Con-Dem Government to put Northern Ireland’s case knowing they had the support of the Assembly.

Mr Agnew said: “I oppose the UK Government cuts to welfare as they will have a particularly detrimental effect in Northern Ireland which has a greater reliance on welfare services.

“While the Green Party backs measures to support people to get back to work, we feel in the current economic climate people are being doubly disadvantaged because there are fewer jobs available and more people are losing their jobs and then the safety net of welfare is being systematically shredded by the cuts.

“This will inevitably lead to greater inequalities in society – especially for women.

“For example, the changes to child benefit are a huge step backwards as this was the first benefit to be given directly women.

“By changing how this is paid and introducing means testing, it is doing away with a key step forward in the empowerment of women within the family women’s  and it could lead to a damage child welfare.

“The Green Party is founded on the demand for social justice and we believe in standing up for the most vulnerable in society and we will continue to strongly oppose any measures that will disadvantage families.”

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