SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has branded Tory plans for the next phase of welfare reform as an attempt to “dehumanise the sick and rob vulnerable people of their dignity”.
It has been reported that the next phase of welfare reform will include changes to Employment and Support Allowance which could coerce claimants into taking on part time work.
She said: “This statement from Iain Duncan Smith, one of the principle architects of the callous reform framework, signals the new direction that the Tory’s plan to take in their mission to demonise and dehumanise welfare claimants.
“Not content with their war on the unemployed, they’re beginning to hold the axe over the heads of the sick.
“This approach is utterly unacceptable and will only compound the difficulties faced by those with complex needs.
“We’ve already discovered this week that the Department of Work and Pensions is circulating guidance to staff on how to deal with welfare claimants who disclose that they are contemplating suicide.
“This guidance is a clear admission of the devastating affect that these policies are having on people.
“It’s time this government took a step back and asked itself what kind of society it is trying to create.
“The SDLP has radically opposed the harshest elements of the welfare reform programme at Westminster.
“We will again oppose any future proposal which attempts to coerce the sick or disabled into work against their will and against their best medical interests.
“We will join with other parties at Westminster to rally against this rampant anti-welfare sentiment that seeks to demonise those who find themselves in hard times,” added the sourth Down MP.