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Ulster Unionist delegation meets Church Leaders

Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt has led a Party delegation including the DRD Minister Danny Kennedy, to meet the leaders of the four main Churches to discuss welfare reform.

Following the meeting Mr Nesbitt said:

“It is five months since the Church leaders reported the sense of confusion, uncertainty and indeed fear among their communities over these proposals and given the series of delays in bringing the legislation forward, it is unsurprising but disturbing that the churches report no improvement.

There was agreement that while the welfare regime was ripe for reform, the timing was questionable, given the state of the economy. Making work pay is a fine ambition, but you need a pool of available jobs to help people move off benefits.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to brief the leaders on our proposed amendments to mitigate the adverse effect of the Bill, not least over the so-called Bedroom Tax, which appears ill suited to our social housing stock, which is not capable of offering people the choice of moving rather than paying the under-occupancy charge, which will effectively tax 32,000 households across Northern Ireland.

Child poverty was the other major area for debate, with discussion on the latest annual report from OFMdFM on their delivery against the Child Poverty Strategy.”

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