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Joined: 09/03/2008


Social Development Minister Alex Attwood today met with Lord Freud who is responsible for Welfare Forum.<

Following the meeting Alex Attwood said: “I made it clear to Lord Freud that the welfare reforms being discussed by the coalition government won’t work in Northern Ireland.<

“The fact is that Northern Ireland is very different and needs to be treated differently.<

“My sense is that Lord Freud heard and understood my arguments. I will now work hard to drive my arguments home.<

“There are three big differences between Belfast and London. Firstly, it is certain that Northern Ireland will emerge from recession far later than Britain. Welfare reforms that purport to get people back to work require by their nature work opportunities. This may not happen for many years in Northern Ireland. This makes the North different and welfare proposals won't work here.<

“Secondly, there are deeper levels of deprivation in NI which results in bigger reasons for people being on benefits. Welfare policy must reflect this. London proposals do not.<

“Thirdly, devolution is still young. Our institutions are still growing. Stability of the community, particular in areas of need must be protected. Welfare proposals and any other government proposals must be assessed by these particular needs. Stability must not be jeopardised.<

“Lord Freud worked in Belfast before. I believe he understands our past experiences and different needs. I shall be working to ensure that this is reflected in the welfare regime that will prevail in the future.”<

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

In other words riots will break out  so don't cut the benefits for Northern Ireland.

So we might see part of the UK recieving uncut benefits while the rest who wont riot get theirs cut or stopped altogether!

I don't know how Freud can sleep at night.

anonymous (not verified)
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Disabled people face "one of the most savage onslaughts" on their livelihoods in many years due to coalition welfare reforms, a leading disability campaigner has warned on his retirement.

John Knight, who steps down today as director of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said plans to reassess all incapacity benefit claimants on their fitness to work and introduce medical assessments for disability living allowance could reverse "a decade of relative progress" in opportunities for disabled people.

Incapacity benefit claimants assessed as fit to work will lose up to £25 a week in benefits and face tougher requirements to seek work, while the government estimates introducing medical assessments for new and existing disability living allowance claimants will cut caseloads by 20%. Knight, who is disabled himself, said he feared the government could go even further in making welfare cuts for the disabled in the comprehensive spending review, which will set public spending limits for 2011-15 and decide the future of the Independent Living Fund.

Chancellor George Osborne has said there would be a trade-off between making cuts to services and further welfare cuts. Knight said: "When the government comes to see it can't realise the savings from services that it wants to make it will go back again to the welfare reform budget and hit the poorest."

Knight vowed he would "not be silent" on this issue. He is retiring after 16 years at Leonard Cheshire on health grounds, though will retain roles on the board of the Charity Commission and as a magistrate.

He said career highlights included building up the charity's policy function "from scratch" and setting up campaign action groups to help disabled people lobby on local issues.

Knight also cited his spell on the board of the Commission for Social Care Inspection from 2004-9, under chair Denise Platt, during which "service users were central to everything we did".

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