Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Welfare reform: SDLP 'only party can derail Tory cuts plan'

Dolores Kelly
Image caption Dolores Kelly said David Cameron had to be "locked out of government"

The SDLP is the only Northern Ireland party that can derail Tory plans for billions of pounds extra in welfare cuts, the party has claimed.

The Tories have said they will cut the welfare bill by £12bn if they win the next election.

However, the party has not explicitly set out where the cuts will come from.

Dolores Kelly MLA said: "Their intention to cut child benefit and child tax credits is a further attack on struggling families."

Her comments come after George Osborne rejected claims by the Lib Dem Danny Alexander that the Tories proposed to cut child benefit while they were in government together.

Mr Alexander, effectively Mr Osborne's deputy in coalition, said he was "lifting the lid" on Tory plans that included limiting child benefit and tax credits to two children.

Image caption The issue of welfare reform has been contentious

But Mr Osborne said the claims were three years old, and never policy.

Ms Kelly said: "We should expect no better from the Tories and their slash and burn ideology. Who we should expect better from is local parties in their opposition to this attack on local families.

"The best way to ensure that these cuts never see the light of day is to lock David Cameron out of government.

"That's what we intend to do by supporting a strong Labour government that is held true to its values by social democrats in the SDLP, SNP and Plaid Cymru.

"While Sinn Féin have based their campaign on 'opposing' Tory cuts, the truth of the matter is that they will stand idly by on the side-lines, silently supporting each and every cut that the Tories try to implement.

"But worse than that, when the cuts then come before the assembly, Sinn Féin will vote to support the Tory plans. That dereliction of duty and blatant hypocrisy is unforgivable."

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