News | Mallon: Stalemate blocking welfare scrutiny

Mallon: Stalemate blocking welfare scrutiny

SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon has welcomed the news that MPs in Westminster have begun a joint inquiry into the impact of welfare reform in Northern Ireland, but said claimants here should be able to look to MLAs they have elected and the Assembly to scrutinise welfare reform and defend their rights. The joint inquiry by the Northern Ireland Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees will consider the impact of the welfare mitigation package, the operation of Universal Credit (including alternative payment arrangements) and the effect of the two-child limit.

The North Belfast MLA commented:

 

“The SDLP welcomes the inquiry, but this is exactly what MLAs are elected to do and would be doing to help protect people if it wasn’t for the ongoing standoff between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

 

“It is shameful that claimants wanting elected representatives to defend them have to look to Westminster; we will be forcibly making that point in our submission. The frustrating thing is that much like the independent report into Personal Independent Payment by Walter Radar, the findings of this Inquiry will, in all likelihood, tell us nothing that advice services and constituency offices don’t already know; that welfare reform is profoundly flawed and not fit for purpose.

 

“We are deeply concerned that claimants are set to be thrust into financial difficulty once the mitigations run out next year. This is a warning we and the advice sector have been flagging up for some time. If we do not see protections put into place by a local Communities Minister, low income and working families will be plunged into poverty, despair and homelessness.

 

“It is a disgrace that as a result of the ongoing standoff between the DUP and Sinn Féin there is no prospect of a local Executive being formed any time soon to help prevent this suffering which will see 34,000 homes hit with the Bedroom Tax in less than a year.

 

“These two parties know this cliff edge is looming and yet their concern isn’t great enough to get involved in Talks to try to restore the Executive to do something. Clearly they prefer to spectate and throw insults from the side lines rather than work together to protect people here.”

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