Socialist and DUP MP deploy Biblical language as they slam £20 benefits cut

As disquiet continued to be voiced today over the government’s scrapping of a £20 boost to Universal Credit, one local councillor declared publicly that the prime minister should “burn in hell”.

A famous medieval painting of what is generally assumed to be some kind of hell, by an anonymous artist generally credited as 'a follower of Hieronymus Bosch'
A famous medieval painting of what is generally assumed to be some kind of hell, by an anonymous artist generally credited as 'a follower of Hieronymus Bosch'

Shaun Harkin from left-wing party People Before Profit, who sits as a councillor in Londonderry, made the fiery statement in a press release from his personal email account.

Menawhile, the DUP called the move “a moral stain”.

All main Northern Irish political parties have spoken out about the removal of the £20 boost (referred to as an “uplift”), which was put in place to aid benefit recipients throughout the Covid crisis but which ended today.

Universal Credit has been phased in across the UK in recent years to replace the array of individual benefits like Housing Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance with a single package.

According to the Resolution Foundation (a think-tank which focuses on low-income people), the removal of the £20 boost will take the standard weekly allowance of a couple aged 25+ down from £137 to £117.

The drop will be sharper for those getting less; for a single person under 25 the standard weekly allowance will drop from £79 to £59.

Mr Harkin dubbed the cut “criminal” and said: “Boris Johnson and the Tories should burn in hell for slashing Universal Credit in full knowledge it will throw workers and vulnerable people – including thousands of children – into poverty.”

He also appeared to invoke the memory of a 53-year-old civil rights march, saying: “Yesterday was October 5. We need the spirit of that day in Derry for a real people power fightback to get vicious Tory policies off our backs.”

October 5 was the date of a key march in Londonderry by the NI Civil Rights Association, back in 1968.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the DUP’s Carla Lockhart said the cut will leave 130,000 people in NI worse off.

She said: “Faced with rising household costs across a range of essentials like food and fuel, it is a moral stain on the government for taking this financial lifeline away from so many people.”

She added: “With Christmas just around the corner, I am dealing with constituents in absolute despair at the financial hardship they are facing.

“They will be faced with a choice of eating or heating.

“How can anyone stand over doing this?

“A compassionate society does not do this.”

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