Not a penny more should be given to welfare in Northern Ireland.
The Stormont House Agreement had already tilted welfare provision in the Province far too far in favour of Sinn Fein’s demands.
Other parties must make the case for spending that money on schools, hospitals and our brave armed forcesNews Letter Morning View
That was the regrettable price of compromise in December, but it would be quite wrong to shovel yet more millions to welfare, just to appease the electoral needs of republicans.
Already, as a result of the SHA, approximately £100 million a year will be spent subsidising a welfare system that is going to remain markedly more generous than that which exists in Great Britain, after the long overdue reforms there.
Both the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party have been much too ready to buy into the notion that Northern Ireland is somehow a special case, that needs more generous welfare provision than the rest of the UK. In fact, there is a case that Northern Ireland should have stricter rules and limits regarding welfare, due to the lower cost of living.
The welfare cap, for example, will hit families much harder in London, where the cost of housing is vastly greater than it is in this Province.
Thousands of families on benefits in Northern Ireland are receiving more than the GB £26,000 annual cap (equivalent to £35,000 a year pre-tax). That is a kick in the teeth to the hundreds of thousands of modestly paid working families in the Province who can only dream of such sums.
Jim Allister found through a Stormont question that the constituencies with the most such families are West Belfast, North Belfast, Foyle, West Tyrone and Newry and Armagh, areas where Sinn Fein poll well. No wonder they oppose reform.
Other parties must make the case for spending that money on schools and hospitals and our brave armed forces.
The DUP-led Executive must stand firm today on giving more of the nation’s precious cash to unreformed welfare, just because Sinn Fein have manufactured a crisis.