Mervyn Storey, the North Antrim DUP Assemblyman recently appointed as Social Development Minister has welcomed a new survey which suggests that many people in Northern Ireland believe that the current welfare system is a ‘soft touch’.
One of the findings demonstrated that 44% of people surveyed think that benefits for unemployed people are ‘too high’ and ‘discourage them from finding jobs’.
Mr. Storey was acknowledging the findings of the latest Omnibus Survey, which provides a snapshot of the lifestyle and views of the people of Northern Ireland.
Headline elemnts of the survey were:- 72% of people surveyed think that the current system is not effective in encouraging people to work. 44% of people surveyed think that benefits for unemployed people are too high and discourage them from finding jobs and 60% of people surveyed think that unemployed claimants should definitely take an available job, even if it not the kind of job they are looking for.
Commenting on the findings, Minister Storey said: “The aim of Welfare Reform is to simplify the benefit system and make work pay. This is one of the key issues raised through the survey, the majority of people surveyed believe the current system is not effective in encouraging people to work; they believe that benefits can provide more money than working; that the system allows people to remain on benefits and avoid work; and that there is a culture of not working in some places or households.”
The Omnibus Survey was conducted in May 2014 and sought the opinions of 2,200 households across Northern Ireland.
The Minister added: “It is time that we end the uncertainty around Welfare Reform and change the nature of the debate from the financial consequences of not implementing Welfare Reform, to one where we engage with and begin to prepare and support those impacted by the changes.
“The Welfare Reform Bill represents the biggest changes to the welfare system in over 60 years. We need to ensure that people here fully understand how it will impact on them and their families.
“I, and my officials, will continue to engage with a wide range of key stakeholders and organisations, including those in the advice sector, the public and local representatives, to help ensure an understanding of the changes ahead and that those impacted by the changes are ready for the changes to the benefits system.”