SDLP To Call For Vital New Measures To Fight Poverty

The SDLP will use the next official Opposition Day to call on the Executive to endorse a range of vital measures, including ending the pernicious two-child limit on Universal Credit and a ban on no-fault evictions.

Today, Monday, 15 April, the Assembly will debate a motion to create a target on child poverty reduction by the end of this mandate, and on the official Opposition Day on Tuesday, three motions will call on the Executive to take action to end the two child-limit (either outright or via mitigation payments), as well as practical measures on fuel poverty and a ban on no-fault evictions.

The SDLP has drawn from extensive work done on potential anti-poverty interventions, including the work of the Executive's own welfare mitigations review panel, the recent Northern Ireland Audit Office report, and the work of a wide range of charities and campaign groups, including the Cliff-Edge Coalition.

Poverty levels in the North remain stubbornly high, with the NI Audit Office report highlighting that one in five children are living in relative poverty and one in ten families are struggling with basic necessities.

Leader of the Opposition Matthew O'Toole MLA said: "Alleviating Northern Ireland's unacceptable poverty levels has to be at the centre of this Executive's work over the remainder of this mandate. A quarter of a century after the Agreement, our poverty levels remain stubbornly high.
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"With one in five children living in poverty, we don't just need the long-promised child poverty strategy, we need urgent action: that's why the centrepiece of the SDLP's second opposition day is the removal of the pernicious two-child limit on Universal Credit, which all experts agree has a disproportionate effect on pushing families and children into poverty and keeping them there. Our proposal is practical and costed, and we are urging the Executive parties to agree to it.

"We will also be seeking to put pressure on the Executive to agree a meaningful plan on eradicating fuel poverty, a target for child poverty reduction and a ban on no-fault evictions – which is increasing housing precarity and worsening our housing crisis. The return of Stormont is welcome, but it cannot simply be about photo ops and PR while children are growing up hungry, people are sitting in cold homes and families are being evicted.

"The SDLP has always been a movement committed to social justice and a decent, dignified life for all our people. We are putting those values to the fore in our second Opposition Day, and as a constructive Opposition we are proposing practical, serious measures that we urge the Executive parties to embrace."

SDLP West Belfast councillor Paul Doherty said: "I see first-hand everyday the mental and physical impact that poverty has on people and have been extremely vocal around the lack of political will to help those who need it most. Far too often it's left to our community groups and organisations to fill the gaps and provide vital services to those who are struggling. These proposals the SDLP Opposition are bringing forward would be an important step in supporting families who are finding it more and more difficult to keep their heads above water and we will continue to press the Executive until we secure real and meaningful change."

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