The DUP wants Northern Ireland to be a society where hard work is rewarded.
We are on the side of those who get up early in the morning, get their children ready for school and go off and do a hard day’s work. We are on the side of those who aspire to own their own home. We are on the side of those who have worked hard all their lives and want to enjoy their retirement.
People who strive to improve themselves and their families want to see Stormont provide good public services for them, their families and their communities when they need them and they want government to do so efficiently and at minimal cost.
Over the past five years, the DUP has created opportunities for hard working people across Northern Ireland:
- by freezing the regional rate in real terms and deferring water charges, we have saved the average householder in Northern Ireland over £2,500 in the last 5 years compared to their counterparts in England;
- as Northern Ireland has the lowest household taxes in the whole of the United Kingdom. For 2015/16 the average household bill was £842 in Northern Ireland compared to £1337 in Scotland, £1,465 in England and £1,550 in Wales;
- as we have maintained free travel on public transport for over 60s;
- in providing the Lone Pensioners Allowance which has helped thousands of ratepayers aged 70 or over and living alone save a total of £5.2 million annually on their rates bills and
- in assisting almost 5,000 families to buy affordable homes by investing £168 million between 2011 and 2015.
- The Democratic Unionist Party will continue to stand on the side of hardworking families across Northern Ireland. This is our Plan to reward hard work.
1. A NEW CHILDCARE STRATEGY
Access and affordability of childcare is a common difficulty for those in work and those seeking work. The DUP is committed to the new Childcare Strategy which will establish 44,000 affordable places. In addition we will support greater flexibility in the starting age for children commencing nursery and primary education.
2. KEEP HOUSEHOLD TAXES IN NORTHERN IRELAND LOW
Whilst other political parties at Stormont are open about their desire to put more pressure on family budgets by hiking rates or introducing water charges, the DUP recognises that times remain tough for many in Northern Ireland. We also believe that Stormont should not be asking you to dig deeper into your pockets to pay more if our government is not as efficient as it should be.
We will therefore:
- keep NI household taxes the lowest in the UK;
- defer water charges in the next Assembly term.
3. PROTECT PENSIONER BENEFITS
Many older people in Northern Ireland fear losing some of the supports Stormont has given them since the restoration of devolution. The DUP wants to protect hard earned pensioner benefits in recognition of a lifetime of hard work by our older generations.
- maintain free public transport for over 60s;
- keep the Lone Pensioners Allowance.
4. HELP YOUNG PEOPLE ON TO THE PROPERTY LADDER
The economic downturn made it more difficult than normal for many families to pursue their dream and place a first foot on the property ladder. That is why the DUP decided to double the annual funding for the hugely successful Co-Ownership Housing Scheme in Northern Ireland. The overall property market is improving and the economy as a whole is getting better but many young people will still face difficulties in purchasing their first home. The DUP will continue to support Co-Ownership and support the purchase of 3,000 new affordable homes over the next three years.
5. SUPPORTING CARERS
Over 67,500 people in Northern Ireland are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. Many more look after loved ones without the help of social security benefits. We understand that many face financial hardship because they have to forego employment in order to carry out their caring responsibilities. Much of the ability to assist carers who are in hardship rests in Westminster through welfare and taxation but the DUP wants to better acknowledge the invaluable role carers play in our society. We will examine ways to support carers who are facing financial difficulties by looking at ideas such as:
- a scheme for Carers to provide free public transport;
- a Rate Relief Scheme for Carers.