SOUTH Down Margaret Ritchie has lambasted Iain Duncan Smith’s response to her question at Westminster about the implementation of welfare reform measures in Northern Ireland.
Speaking following Tuesday’s Urgent Question on Universal Credit in the House of Commons, Ms Ritchie said: “Given the shambles in implementing Universal Credit in England, Iain Duncan Smith’s glib dismissal of my concerns about Northern Ireland is completely unacceptable. He should listen to our concerns rather than attempt to force these measures on us.
“A British government who have had to write off £41m in designing their IT system and whose entire ‘digital first’ programme of reform is in doubt are in no position to lecture the Northern Ireland Executive.
“We will continue to stand up for the poor and the vulnerable rather than treat them as an obstacle to be stepped over. What I predicted some months ago at Prime Ministers Questions has unfortunately proven to be true- this government’s welfare programme is not just unfair, it is unworkable.”
In the parliamentary Westminster exchange, Ms Ritchie said: “Given the shambles that exists here in Britain in relation to the implementation of Universal Credit, why are the Government so intent on imposing this unfair welfare system in Northern Ireland, where levels of disadvantage are higher, the cost of living is higher, and jobs, including new jobs, are particularly scarce?
Mr Duncan Smyth replied: “Welfare reform would benefit Northern Ireland as much as it is benefiting the UK. I suggest that the hon. Lady and her colleagues get on and implement it.”]]>