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Joined: 09/03/2009

This Centre for Social Justice report calls on the Northern Ireland Assembly “to look beyond the Troubles of the past 40 years and address its crippling levels of social breakdown”.

The report highlights the extent of this social breakdown in Ulster including:

  • The highest level of economic inactivity in the UK
  • Unemployment which has more than doubled in the last two years
  • That over half of those claiming income support have done so for more than five years
  • One in five households is a single parent family
  • Three in four single parent families live in poverty – 63,000 children
  • Widespread mental illness with nearly 50,000 men and women in Northern Ireland out of work because of mental and behavioural disorder
  • More than one in 10 35-64-year-olds on antidepressants
  • 30,000 people using cannabis every month
  • · Rate of cannabis use up 50 per cent from 2002 and 2006
  • Drug-related deaths up 100-fold in the last 40 years
  • Among 18-29-year-olds, 72 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women binge drink at least once a week
  • Divorce rate is more than five times the level of 40 years ago

The report advocates the promotion of stronger families through, for instance:

- reform of the tax and benefits system.
- early intervention programmes to help troubled families.
- programmes to tackle educational failure.
- placing recovery at the heart of addiction treatment.

Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood’s stated in response to the publication of the report (and after meeting Iain Duncan Smith to discuss welfare reform) that he would not compromise on the fundamental principles that those on welfare benefits should not carry any further burden of any budget cuts.

"If there are useful welfare changes that can properly help people get into work this is something that does need to be looked at, but it cannot be a device used to wage war on those on benefits."

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