By VIEW editor Brian Pelan
I wrote my first letter to a newspaper in 1970. I was 14 years of age. It was in response to a man who had hit out at “dole scroungers” in a previous letter to the paper.
To my amazement and delight, the newspaper published my letter in which I refuted the idea that people claiming benefits were “scroungers”.
In 2017, we are about to witness the most systematic assault yet on Northern Ireland on people who depend on welfare benefits for their economic existence.
The new Universal Credit system, which rolls six benefits into one, starts in Limavady on Wednesday, September 27. A timetable has been set for its introduction across Northern Ireland.
We can’t say we haven’t been warned as we know that the system of Universal Credit in Britain, which has already started there, has been a disaster for those who depend on the welfare system.
The Resolution Foundation has warned that the unprecedented scale of these welfare cuts means they are on course to forge the biggest increase in inequality in a generation. At the same time, Conservative chancellors will have instigated more than £80bn of tax cuts a year by 2021, including £22bn of income tax cuts, four-fifths of which benefit the richest half of families, and more than £13bn in corporation tax cuts.
Some food banks have reported that marriages had broken down as a result of the extra pressures of waiting for payments,
Calls are starting to grow in Northern Ireland for Universal Credit to be halted or scrapped.
A social policy which can inflict such harm on people’s lives must be opposed.