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MP critical of Welfare Green Paper

July 24, 2008 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Asking the questions that matter to RochdaleRochdale MP and Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Paul Rowen has claimed that the Welfare Green Paper released earlier this week ignores the needs of many people claiming benefits in places like Falinge and College Bank. He also claimed that the reforms failed to address some of the most pressing reasons why people don't work.

Rochdale hit the headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that 820 out of 1,074 working-age adults in Falinge and College Bank were unemployed and claiming out-of-work benefits. This figure of 76.4% was the highest in the country. Several meetings have taken place with Paul Rowen MP and the Council to continue to address this problem.

Mr Rowen said: "I welcome a number of initiatives in this Green Paper, like personalised back to work support. The paper fails though to address the needs of those with mental health problems and the disabled, who make up 40% of those on incapacity benefit.

"There are pitfalls that need to be addressed for child poverty and vulnerable people before the bill is presented to Parliament. I will be working with the Lib Dem Shadow Work and Pension's Team to address these.

"After 10 years of a Labour Government we still see a dependency on the Welfare State that has trapped many local people in a spiral of poverty. The Government are offering some people a means out of it but making life more difficult for others. Until the Government proactively look at some of the health issues and disability issues that act as an obstacle to work then we may not see much progress.

"On a recent Disability Conference that I held in Rochdale, I heard horror stories about the discrimination that still ensues when disabled people apply for jobs. The Government needs to look at issues like this across the board. Some of these headlines and gimmicks will not go down well with local people who prefer real solutions to mental health and disability issues that effectively bar people from working."