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Tory welfare cuts 'nothing to do with the debt'

I would like to respond to the letter about the Welfare Reform Bill by the Conservative Party's Stephen McIlwrath (Write Back, March 2).

Mr McIlwrath claims that the purpose of the Bill is not to cut spending, but to get people back into work. While Mr McIlwrath's view is at odds with his own party's website, which clearly states that welfare reform is key to dealing with a "decade of debt", it does reveal what most people have known all along; the real reason for Tory cuts is ideological, rather than based on sound economics.

Mr McIlwrath also makes the baseless claim that it will help to combat benefit dependency. Yet his stance on this issue is indicative of the Conservatives' simplistic view of the benefits trap. The evidence demonstrates that, when you come from a poor background, but live in a progressive society with a strong welfare system, you are far more likely to engage in employment and progress up the social ladder.

Moving towards a US system, where generations of poor are denied any government assistance and which leaves people with a mountain to climb, results in the entrapment of generation after generation in a cycle of poverty. Most astounding is that he justifies these welfare reforms on the basis that they are fair. Yet what exactly is fair about a policy, devised by a cabinet of millionaires, which takes away what little support exists for the very poorest people in society?

ROSS BROWN

Chair, Green Party, east Belfast

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