‘Chancellor’s spending review will hurt most vulnerable’ – Ritchie

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Thursday, July 4th, 2013
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has demanded clarification from the UK government over the implementation of further restrictions to the welfare budget announced by the Chancellor. Speaking following the Spending Review she stated, “I have tabled a series of Parliamentary questions regarding the impact of these measures in Northern Ireland. “While the block grant has been largely protected due to the ring-fence on health and education spending, I was very concerned about the announcement regarding benefits and social security spending. “The introduction of a week long delay for benefits payments will be welcomed only by payday loan companies, who just today have been made subject to a Competition Commission investigation and whose predatory practices are renowned. “The introduction of an overall welfare budget cap, following on from the individual cap is potentially worrying, especially if it is used as a tool to squeeze welfare spending in the north of Ireland. “The UK Chancellor’s campaign against the most vulnerable in society is dangerous and socially divisive. We need to keep reminding him that it was not people on benefits that caused the banking crisis and they should not be the primary targets of his mantra of austerity. “I did welcome the announcement of the protection of the 0.7% commitment on aid spending but I want further assurances that the aid budget will not be channelled to supplement UK military spending, especially for any future action in Syria. Ritchie added, “Using aid money for military ventures would be an extremely dangerous path to go down and undermine so much of the great work that NGOs and development charities do in very dangerous regions.”
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