'Empty Purse' Protest at Stormont
Following on from a successful demonstration of women in the community sector in May at a Belfast Job Centre a second ‘Empty Purse’ protest was organised, with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), against Benefit Cuts at Parliament Buildings on the morning of 25th June.
The coalition Government’s Welfare Reform Act 2012 received Royal Assent on 8th March, consolidates a range of benefits, including child tax credit, housing benefit and income support, into a single Universal Credit. In the case of married or cohabiting couples, the benefit will be paid to just one person – and the Empty Purse Campaign argues that vulnerable women could lose what little financial independence they have at present.
Lynn Carvill from Women’s Resource and Development Agency who attended the protest said, “There was a great turnout this morning. It is crucial that we get our message across to our politicians but also to the general public. The new benefit Universal Credit will be paid to the nominated person in the household. Our societal default position is that it will be to the male ‘head of household’. Women across Northern Ireland are furious about this regressive move and rightly so. We are asking that Universal Credit (which replaces housing benefit, income-based JSA and ESA and all tax credits) should be paid to the second earner or main carer. If this is unpalatable, then it should be split. Women in the main are responsible for household budgeting and expenditure. They should have direct access to resources.”
The Welfare Reform Draft Bill is currently being scrutinised by the committee for the Department for Social Development before going to plenary session.
For images of the protest, please visit WRDA’s Flickr page