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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kenwood (Local Democracy Reporter)

Belfast City Hall turning out the lights to mark cut in Universal Credit

The lights of Belfast’s City Hall are to go out for two hours to mark the £20 reduction in Universal Credit.

Belfast Councillors agreed to a proposal for a blackout by SDLP Councillor Brian Heading to mark the ending of the Universal Credit Covid uplift, a move by the UK government widely seen as pushing workers and the unemployed further into poverty.

At Monday’s meeting of the full Belfast Council, the chamber also agreed to a motion by Councillor Heading calling on Stormont’s communities and finance ministers to retain the extra payment for the rest of the financial year and to write to the UK government to “think again.”

It also calls on Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy to form a long term strategy to “tackle the shameful levels of poverty and social deprivation across Belfast.”

The blackout will take place from 8pm-10pm on Wednesday evening (October 6th).

Councillor Heading invited all Belfast councillors to be outside the gates of City Hall from 8pm with himself and other protestors.

He said: “This building will be in darkness as a reminder to its citizens, that this government is making a mistake.”

Councillor Heading said: “This is something some people would call a crime, when a government seeks to harm part of its population.”

He added: “All that is needed is for this government to show that it has some knowledge of what is going on in our communities. To look at putting a penny on a pint of beer, putting a penny on tobacco, or putting a penny on income tax.

“If they are so concerned about the six billion pounds that it costs, and its impact, then there are ways in which this government can raise the money themselves.”

Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl, who confirmed her attendance at the black-out, said at the meeting: “This is £20 off people already struggling. It was never enough, and to do this in the run up to Christmas is just cruel.”


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