Political news

DUP helps Tories defeat attempt to force release of Universal Credit impact papers

Prime Minister Theresa May stands with then First Secretary of State Damian Green (right), DUP leader Arlene Foster (second left) and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds (left), as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (third right) shakes hands with then Chief Whip Gavin Williamson after signing the confidence and supply deal to support the Conservative government in 2017. Picture by Daniel Leal-Olivas, Press Association
Digital Staff

DUP MPs have been criticised for helping the British government defeat an attempt in parliament to force the release of documents analysing the impact of universal credit.

Six Northern Ireland MPs voted against the Labour motion which sought access to papers showing the effect on income and debt since the controversial benefit reforms were introduced.

The motion was defeated by 299 votes to 279 after four hours of debate.

A similar Labour motion previously forced the publication of Brexit impact assessments.

Universal credit, which is currently being rolled out across Northern Ireland, replaces six separate benefits payments and is intended to simply the system as well as encourage more people into employment.

However, work and pensions secretary Esther McVey last week conceded some families would lose out under the changes, and former prime minister John Major warned that it could be as damaging to the Conservatives as the poll tax was in the 1980s.

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Labour MPs said it was causing "massive hardship" and described it as a "vehicle for cuts", accusing the government of covering up the impact on families.

The DUP voted with the Tories, despite threatening last week that it would not support domestic, financial, welfare and other legislation if the union is threatened by a Brexit deal.

Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson, Paul Girvan, Gavin Robinson, David Simpson and Sammy Wison all voted no.

Rival Stormont parties criticised the move, with Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd tweeting: "No border between the Tories and DUP when it comes to attacking the poor!"


The SDLP's Nichola Mallon accused the DUP of helping "the Tories hide the truth".

People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll said: "Disgraceful that the DUP wouldn’t agree to publishing papers relating to the impact of Universal Credit on people’s lives."


Progressive Unionist Party deputy leader Dr John Kyle also said some of the six DUP MPs represent areas with the highest levels of food, fuel and financial poverty.

“The DUP scurry to cloak and protect the Tories whilst community organisations, advice partnerships and charities across Northern Ireland are working round the clock to advocate for and support the very people they are supposed to be representing. It is disgraceful and reprehensible,” he said.





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