Alliance is committed to tackling poverty and social exclusion, protecting families and the most vulnerable within our society. We find it unacceptable that Northern Ireland is dogged by particularly high levels of deprivation, poverty and inequality. If the correct policies are not put in place to counter-act the current financial climate, this will continue. A truly shared society requires us to tackle all forms of division and this requires addressing social and economic inequality. This must start at a young age - if we do not help children early enough then it is much harder to break down barriers later on. Our proposals for tackling poverty and social exclusion include:
- Fully implementing the Child Poverty Strategy and earlier support for families at danger of entering care.
- A legal requirement for the NI Executive to deliver adequate childcare provision.
- Tackling fuel poverty through our proposed Green New Deal and associated schemes such as the warm homes scheme.
- Developing a Financial Inclusion Action Plan which would provide people with information on financial products and coping with debt.
- Good quality housing is also essential for tackling poverty. Alliance believes that decent housing is a right and should be available to all, regardless of whether people are owner-occupiers, social housing tenants or private renters. In order to improve the quality of housing, we support:
- Making an on-going commitment to capital investment for new social housing;
- Introducing mandatory private landlord registration
- Extending decent homes standards to private rented housing
- Ensuring adequate tenancy support in the private rented sector is available
- Supporting independent housing advice services.
Finally, Alliance acknowledges the need to ensure parity between the UK and Northern Irish welfare regimes. We will maintain the principle of parity when implementing the Welfare Reform Bill - failure to do so would see Northern Ireland unable to pay its welfare costs. However, we will concentrate our welfare efforts on breaking down the barriers to work for the unemployed.