Ritchie to table welfare petition to House of Commons

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Saturday, May 26th, 2012
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has vowed to present an all-party petition expressing concern about the impact of the Welfare Reform Bill on pensioners in Northern Ireland to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Signatures for the petition will be gathered by the Age Sector Platform. “The effect of the Welfare Reform Bill on the daily lives of pensioners here will be hard-felt, wide-ranging and unjust.” Ritchie stated. “The SDLP see it as the most devastating government policy and that is why I have vowed to join forces with other sitting Northern Ireland MPs to table an all-party motion to the Speaker of the House of Commons further highlighting our concerns about the impact of this Bill.” “Changes from DLA and Incapacity Benefit to Personal Independence Payment has placed an undue worry on the minds of many elderly and their families, suffering from debilitating illnesses such as MS or Parkinson’s, with huge concerns that the new benefit system will fail to properly take into account their differing daily needs and condition. The assistance provided by DLA is essential to the independent living of many elderly people– who also face extra mobility costs because of their disability.” Ritchie continued, “The SDLP met Lord Freud in London a number of weeks ago and at that time we argued that much of the character of welfare reform was wrong in principle and would do harm to many people and communities in the North, notably pensioners.” “With the news this week from the Public Accounts Committee that up to £200m worth of benefits, mainly those to be claimed by older people, could be left unclaimed, we will continue to fight for the rights and needs of our elderly,” she added.
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