‘The Tory Budget unveiled by George Osborne is the first shot in a class war waged by the Conservatives that will deepen poverty and hurt low income families’, according to SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.
Mrs Kelly said: “I watched George Osborne stand... in the House of Commons acting like some modern day Sheriff of Nottingham, robbing from the poorest to sustain hand outs to the rich. This is a poverty budget that offers nothing for low income working families and disproportionately targets those already struggling.
“The assault launched on child tax credits is a restriction on families that will operate as an abhorrent two child policy, posing particular problems for the North because it takes no account of traditionally larger Irish families. Reducing this in-work benefit is a slap in the face to those working hard to make ends meet. The Tories set this up as a budget for aspiration but it will now force thousands of struggling families further into desperation.
“Young people are perhaps most devastated by these plans. A cut to automatic entitlement to housing benefit threatens hundreds with homelessness. The scrapping of university maintenance grants stifles opportunity and ambition. And the new minimum wage bracket, dressed up as a ‘living wage’...is high on rhetoric but wont be a reality for anyone under 25.
“The SDLP warned about the dangers of a Tory majority budget. All parties here must show a united front against these cuts and the Executive must resist those elements it has control over. This is the beginning of a long battle against crippling austerity that will damage our regional economy and send thousands into poverty. We cannot be found wanting.”