Ulster Unionist Party Welfare Spokesperson, Robbie Butler MLA, has welcomed the conclusion of a joint report from the Northern Ireland Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees which urges the Secretary of State to commit to legislation to extend the social security mitigation package beyond March 2020.
Robbie Butler said:
“Welfare reform was meant to have simplified the overall benefits system, but instead it made the system more complicated and has driven even more people into real financial hardship.
“Fortunately however, individuals and families across Northern Ireland have been protected from some of the worst aspects as a result of the mitigation payments previously agreed to in 2015.
“This latest inquiry into welfare policy in Northern Ireland is categorical that the measures must be extended and I welcome the clear recommendation contained within it that the Secretary of State should introduce legislation in Westminster to enable this.
“The fact that the current legislation expires in March 2020 and that the Department for Communities is still adamant that the decision on any new measures from April next year can only be a matter for incoming Ministers means it is no longer an option for the Northern Ireland Office to simply look the other way.
“Whilst I of course would much prefer these issues and decisions being dealt with locally, it appears that more than two and a half years after collapsing the Assembly the DUP and Sinn Fein are still placing their political ideologies and priorities ahead of actually delivering for families, the vulnerable and working poor in society.”