Sinn Féin’s flip-flop on welfare reform will seriously harm the poorest people in Northern Ireland. Money will now have to be taken from Health, Education and Justice to pay for the allocations which will need to be returned to the UK Treasury (so-called “fines”) in increasing amounts as the penalty for breaching “parity”.
People awaiting vital operations or diagnosis will find there is not enough staff or equipment to carry them out; crucial employment schemes setting young people on the way to work and well-being will be abandoned; as lights go unfixed and patrols go unreplaced, people (particularly the elderly) will feel unable to go out safely. That is the consequence of not implementing welfare reform.
This Welfare Reform, by the way, would give more money to the “seriously disabled” (they receive more under PIP than under DLA). This Welfare Reform would ensure that someone who cannot take a job currently because they would lose benefits would no longer lose them, and thus could start the journey away from dependency and into a career. It would also greatly simplify the system so that people entitled to benefits were much less likely to miss out on them. As for “tackling child poverty”, that is a lot easier when you do not pay hundreds of millions every year back to the Treasury in order to run a welfare system which traps people in poverty rather than helps them out of it (not least because it inadequately supports severely disabled people, hinders people who want to get into work, and takes money from vital public services to do so).
No, if you really wanted to help the “vulnerable”, taking hundreds of millions out of essential public services and programmes they rely on to pay for a complex and dysfunctional welfare system is the very last thing you would do.
Yet it is what Sinn Féin has just done, of course. Because it is not vulnerable people they care about, it is vulnerable seats.