8 Oct 2012

COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, today warned that further benefits cuts could push yet more families into poverty.

Speaking as the Assembly debates the growing number of foodbanks and prepares for a second reading of the Welfare Reform Bill, the Commissioner said fears over welfare reform are increasing.

“No-one denies that welfare and benefits need to be reformed, but I fear that reform is just another word for cuts,” said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.

“The economic downturn and global recession may be the cause for much of the hardship, but when we see more and more families having to use foodbanks just to survive then we as a society must acknowledge that child poverty is on the increase.

“As the Welfare Reform Bill is about to be discussed by the Committee for Social Development I will be providing evidence on my fears for families across Northern Ireland.”

Earlier this year the Commissioner published two reports on welfare reform proposals. They dealt with the impact on children and whether Northern Ireland had the scope for operational flexibility on parity with English and Welsh benefits’ systems.

“I believe that some of the issues I raised have been listened to, but the Assembly needs to step away from assumptions on welfare reform and make sure that children and young people do not become the victims in the process of implementing changes agreed in Westminster.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor