Campaigners to gather outside Department for Communities building on Bedford Street, Belfast
Albert Hewitt explained why his union’s community members will be protesting against Universal Credit outside the Department for Communities buildings in Belfast tomorrow at 2pm:
“While Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster for working-class people across the UK, it’s impact in Northern Ireland where there are significantly more people out of work has been even worse. The package of mitigations sold to us at the time of the Fresh Start agreement in its justification has proved absolutely worthless.
“The reality is that hundreds have been forced onto the streets as a result of the five week delay in getting rental payments as unscrupulous and callous landlords have refused to wait for payments or are unwilling to risk further delays should the benefit be withheld for whatever reason.
“Universal credit and the wider welfare reform process are nothing less than cruel attacks on the living conditions of working-class people unable to work whether through sickness, disability or just bad luck; but it doesn’t just affect those without work. Universal credit has also meant drastic cuts to those on low incomes leading to a dramatic surge in in-work poverty. What’s perhaps most shocking is that a significant number of those left homeless on the streets this Christmas will be working people unable to keep a home over their heads. And for every homeless person visible on our streets there are many more stuck living on someone else’s couch or with relatives. The undeniable truth is that in Belfast, universal credit has led to a dramatic increase in homelessness.
“We are encouraging all those who want this benefit stopped in its tracks to gather behind Unite in the community’s growing campaign. We intend to make this an issue that can’t simply be ignored by the Conservative Secretary of State, Karen Bradley”, Mr Hewitt said.