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Over the summer PPR began working with the Golden Thread Art Gallery in Belfast to harness the experience and ideas of unemployed people at the DHSS office in Great Patrick Street. With over 5000 unemployed in north Belfast alone, Assembly plans to create only 5000 jobs a year are falling far short of what is needed to deal with an ever growing unemployment crisis.

The Assembly have also recently passed the Welfare Reform Bill through its first stage - designed to cut at least £18 Billion from the UK welfare budget at a time of fewer jobs and general economic decline.

It is unclear exactly how the bill will impact on people when it is introduced by the Assembly in 2013; however, it is clear that those worst off at present will be hit hardest yet again and in many different ways.

Families, young people, the elderly and disabled are already struggling and can now expect massive changes to housing benefit, child benefit, employment support allowance, incapacity benefit, job seekers and much more in the new year.

Since the summer, a Right to Work: Right to Welfare campaign has been developing led by people affected by job loss and cuts in the welfare system. 

The group has been using PPR’s human rights based approach to identify issues faced by unemployed people and gather evidence from the people affected by the issues.

Over 150 people looking for work or living with illnesses and disabilities have taken part in interviews, workshops and actions in recent months, each with a different story, each affected by cuts, job loss, and the failure by government to target resources into areas of obvious and proven need.

Their experiences - sick people being declared fit for work, thousands applying for the same job, back to work schemes that equate to free labour, training schemes which are irrelevant in today’s labour market and continuous attacks on human dignity are in sharp contrast to the developing narrative amongst many decision makers of people who are workless, workshy and addicted to benefits.

The Right to Work: Right to Welfare group have gathered evidence as to how duty bearers are failing to uphold international human rights obligations and how unemployed people are suffering as a consequence.

They plan to launch their findings in the New Year.