Social Security and Covid-19: An inadequate response to crisis…

By Ciara Fitzpatrick, Ulster University, School of Law Lockdown due to the Covid-19 global pandemic has had far reaching consequences for life as we know it. The economic repercussions will be huge – recent analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has shown a 10 percent spike in unemployment, equating to around 2 million more people out of work in the UK. In the three weeks to 9 April, 45,000 new claims were made for Universal Credit (UC) in …

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Fatal Distraction: Coronavirus and Low Pay in Trumps America…

Like most other countries, experts in the USA are recommending that people avoid large crowds, stockpile shelf-stable foods in case they end up quarantined, and stay home from work and contact a doctor if they are ill. Sounds sensible. But there is a big problem A lot of low-income people can’t afford to follow it. Many low-income families, who are more likely to live in smaller quarters and share bathrooms and kitchens with multiple people, simply can’t self-quarantine as effectively …

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Doing time: the reality of prison for young men…

Across the UK, reports and inspections have continuously illuminated the ongoing concerns relating to the high levels of violence, self-harm and reoffending experienced by young men in prison, particularly in comparison to their older male counterparts. These issues are exacerbated by the high levels of lock-up and overcrowding all prisoners are subjected to. Within NI, Hydebank Wood Secure College (hereafter Hydebank) is responsible for imprisoning young men between the ages of 18 and 24. This event sets out the findings …

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The Universal Credit two-child limit: all cost, no benefit

Picture of piggy bank being held by different ages of hands - Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

SOAPBOX: a representative from the British Association of Social Workers argues that the UK Government policy to limit Universal Credit to the first two children in a household is unbefitting of a modern, just society and argues that this roll-back of welfare provision is being pursued regardless of the impacts on hard-up families and vulnerable children. The resulting costs of implementing the introduction of the two-child policy mean that it seems to be driven by ideological rather than fiscal responsibility.

Class division in Northern Ireland even greater than between orange and green, argues CFNI chief

Class is a bigger and more significant division in Northern Ireland than is the religious divide, argues the chief executive of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland Andrew McCracken.   “Whilst there’s the really visible gap between orange and green, the more fundamental and more important gap is the gap between rich and poor and the bubbles of society that we live in,” says Andrew in the latest Forward Together podcast. He continues: “The thing I really care about, that’s part …

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UN Report: The Full Picture of Poverty in the UK is Obvious to Anyone who Opens their Eyes

“[T]he full picture of poverty in the United Kingdom, much of it the direct result of government policies… is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes. There has been a shocking increase in the number of food banks and major increases in homelessness and rough sleeping; a growing number of homeless families…” – Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on poverty in the UK (22 May 2019) “I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire …

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The Stagnation of Urban Renewal

Late last year the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) released the updated Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measures. There were no surprises here: half of the most deprived Super Output Areas (SOAs) are in Belfast, a fifth are in the North West, and the rest are scattered in mostly rural communities. There is very little movement in and out of the top 100. The absence of a steady flow of continuous and dynamic data has contributed to stagnation and …

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Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would …

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Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have …

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Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern …

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Is it time for the churches to become more Christian?

Cathal O’Hagan is a Monaghan native and law graduate, currently doing an MA in Conflict Transformation at QUB. Just like there isn’t momentum for a re-prohibition on contraception; or mood for re-implementing a ban on divorce, the penny will soon finally drop that debates over marriage equality and abortion are not the way for churches to regain influence in Ireland. Churches can either continue with the prominence they give to so-called “moral” issues, or they can refocus on the core …

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#SluggerReport: What these post #AE16 shootings tell us about wicked problems in West Belfast

I would definitely listen back to the first half hour of the Nolan Show this morning. Some of the reaction from some callers was pretty chilling in their comments on four shootings since voting at Assembly elections finished. One suggested that within six or seven days no one but the families would care. In the meantime here’s some thoughts on the wicked problems that communities like those in West Belfast face and which enforcer violence like this perpetuates… Mick FealtyMick …

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Confronting the challenge of poverty and inequality…

We often think that poverty is inevitable, and many people (think that they) know by itself that poverty is a cause of illness and social problems. The poor are always with us, they say, rather misreading Deuteronomy and St Matthew. Attitudes today are rather different from Victorian times, when the poor were seen as either ‘deserving’ or ‘non deserving’, groupings which were subjective and moralising. If you were ‘deserving’, you got into the workhouse; too bad if you were deemed …

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Homeless Pod – Belfast Council have made the Homeless, Homeless

Never blog when angry, wise advice…I’ve sat on this all day and I’m now ready to share. I wrote yesterday about the “Hipod” or Homeless pod that had been placed by a socially minded individual at “Jubilee Gardens” Belfast (Most loose use of the word garden I’ve ever seen). Paid for and built entirely by themselves…It is a park bench that doubles as providing shelter for rough-sleepers, with added features of a padded floor, solar panel charging for an fm …

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I Finally Used A Food Bank

Some of you may remember that I wrote in support of food banks in December, related to my homeless teenage years. I never used a food bank back then because I didn’t know about them, I wish I did…life might have been easier to cope with. The public response to my account was far beyond my expectation, people really care about this issue. There is a pattern with charities and homelessness around Christmas time… People feel privileged in their warm …

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#SluggerSoapbox: Who speaks for poor children in Northern Ireland?

Professor Paddy Hillyard occupies the chair in Social Policy at Queens University in Belfast. His most research has focused on poverty, conflict and inequality in Northern Ireland, and the range of the social harms which people experience from the cradle to the grave. A draft budget has been circulated for consultation. The heads of some of our most powerful institutions have received extensive publicity on how the cuts will affect them. But who speaks up for poor and disadvantaged children in our …

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Dear Mr Prime Minister come to take a walk with me

Writing for the first time on Slugger is recently married PUP Belfast City Cllr Julie-Anne Corr Johnston One of the major local headlines last week was that British Prime Minister David Cameron and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny had “cleared their diaries” to lend their support to the inter-party talks at Stormont. It seems that no Stormont talks are complete without a crisis intervention from a Prime Minister, President, or some other person of note. We all remember Sir Reg Empey receiving …

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Christians on The Left take food poverty debate beyond the foodbank

This is a report by Jonny Currie, a Community Development Worker in East Belfast and a member of Christians on the left, who held their inaugural event this week. Over forty activists gathered in a lecture theatre at QUB on Thursday evening for Christians on the Left’s (COTL) inaugural Northern Ireland event. Titled “Beyond the Foodbank: Pushing the Food Poverty Debate Forward,” the event challenged those in attendance to move beyond the charitable act of food bank provision to change …

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Christians on the Left host food poverty debate

The number of food banks is on the rise in Northern Ireland. According to Advice NI, the number of food banks in Northern Ireland has increased from two in 2011, to at least 14 in 2014, and Trussell Trust reports distributing more than 11,000 free food parcels this year. Churches have taken a lead in mobilising volunteers, distributing food parcels to those in need, and working with charity and statutory organisations to get people the support they need to improve their circumstances. …

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