Call for action to protect people from UC cut

Ballymena SDLP councillor Eugene Reid has called for Sinn Féin ministers to take action to protect people in North Antrim from a planned cut to Universal Credit.

The latest figures from the Department for Communities show that benefit offices in the constituency currently have 7,790 UC claimants.

The SDLP this week launched its ‘Give it Back’ campaign urging Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Finance Minister Conor Murphy to fund the uplift if the British government proceeds with the cut. Cr Reid said: “Removing this money from struggling families while the pandemic is still going on is a cruel and short-sighted move. Over the past few months we have seen the cost of living increase across the board. Families are struggling as food and essentials get ever more expensive and utility prices make it harder and harder to heat their homes. The removal of the uplift is also bad news for businesses and the local economy.

“People in North Antrim have been let down too often, we need to see local action to retain the uplift and protect people here.

Ballymena Councillor Eugene Reid

“Time after time people have been let down by politicians who gave the Tories our welfare powers and are now doing nothing to stop them hurting hard pressed families. Sinn Féin Ministers Hargey and Murphy have a duty to people here to find the £55m needed. In reality people here need much more than an extra £20 a week in support, but it’s a start. We also need to see a long-term strategy to address poverty in areas like North Antrim, with the North shamefully having some of the worst levels of poverty in all of Europe.

“I would urge people to come together to sign and our petition and support our campaign to save this uplift for the people who need it most.”