A report from Sheffield Hallam University claims that Northern Ireland will be “hardest hit” by welfare reform. Absolutely on the contrary, what it proves is that the current system has failed Northern Ireland the most – giving up on thousands of people by leaving them dependent on hand outs and essentially disabling ambition and aspiration. That is the real outrage here.
The report adds that “Welfare Reform will take £750 million out of the Northern Ireland economy” a nonsensical headline which is insulting to the tax payers of Northern Ireland who contribute those millions in their taxes in the first place!
The whole objective of the welfare system from the outset was to provide an insurance system for those contributing to it – through hard-earned national insurance and other taxes – for when they fall on hard times. With very minor exceptions in the case of severe ill-health, it is not intended as a hand-out scheme to enable society to give up on thousands of people or even whole communities. The very basis of the system is that you must contribute to it in order to take from it.
So welfare reforms cannot possibly “take out” money from the economy because it was never contributed to it in the first place – the £750 million (or whatever the figure is) does not grow on trees, it is provided by hard-working tax payers in Northern Ireland (and its value is supplemented by heroic, unpaid carers and volunteers).
Working people already hit with vast mortgages and huge childcare costs need to be sure that the money they contribute to welfare goes to a system which works. Instead, whole parts of Belfast, Derry and Strabane have become essentially permanently divided into “contributors” and “recipients”. This means that entire neighbourhoods of people are simply given up on, with the cost for this outrage borne by ever squeezed hard-working people – and it means that this happens more in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK.
In fact, welfare reform would see the link between contribution and receipt re-established. Far from being hardest hit, Northern Ireland has most to gain.