Eastwood: Equality and Human Rights provisions fundamental to welfare reform

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has highlighted the deficiencies in the Welfare Reform Bill. He was speaking along with his colleague Mark H Durkan in the Assembly today regarding the report of the Ad Hoc Committee set up to consider whether the provisions of the Welfare Reform Bill conform with the requirements for equality and human rights.

Mr Eastwood said:

Equality and Human Rights should be enshrined in any process of welfare reform. It is clear that welfare reform will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people including women, children and the disabled.

All the evidence suggests welfare reform will have an adverse impact on the Human rights of those individuals due to be hardest hit by the Bill's provisions.

The DUP, UUP and Alliance have lined up to force this flawed report through. The SDLP will continue to stand against a blatant attack on the most vulnerable in our society and do whatever is required to address the needs of many people in our communities.

His SDLP Party Colleague Mark H Durkan also said:

The report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Conformity with Equality Requirements, Welfare Reform Bill is lamentable. The report demonstrates the closed-mindedness of the DUP, UUP and Alliance on the important task of testing the Bill for its equality and human rights proofing.

The report itself has effectively been emasculated by the indifference of the DUP, UUP and the Alliance party who have gone into the process with closed ears and minds.

Changes to Welfare Reform will impact on the most vulnerable in our society. By the Ministers own admission a full equality impact assessment was not carried out on the bill.

Our party are deeply concerned as to what the bill will entail and have noticed the attitude of senior unionists who seem to be peddling the virtues of welfare reform against backbenchers who pay lip service to the concerns raised.

The vote today is further evidence as if it were needed regarding the gap between unionist MLAs and socially disadvantaged communities. We will renew our efforts to improve the welfare reform bill however we will remain opposed to it in the absence of substantial and fair changes to it.



Further information: Mark H Durkan 07973363702
SDLP Press Office 028 9052 1364
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