Advice NI AGM 2018

The Advice NI Annual General Meeting took place recently at the Skainos Centre in east Belfast.

, The theme of this year’s AGM was Welfare Reform: Mitigations on a Cliff Edge, addressing the current roll-out of Universal Credit as well as the looming expiration current mitigations package. The existing mitigations package protects many children and vulnerable adults from the current welfare reforms and is due to expire in March 2020.

The report Welfare Reform: Mitigations on a Cliff Edge, produced by Advice NI, Housing Rights and Law Centre NI, was launched at the AGM. The paper not only highlights the approaching deadline, but also the impact if the protections offered by the current mitigations package were to cease.

You can read the full report here.

Also at this year’s AGM was a full and frank update on welfare reform and the current mitigations package by Professor Eileen Evason, Chair of the Welfare Mitigations working group. She was followed by Sinéad McKinley of the North Belfast Advice Partnership. In an emotional speech Sinéad was able to give the conference her unique perspective from the front lines of welfare reform changes and the real effects they have had on people.

During the day, Advice NI CEO Bob Stronge presented the 2017/2018 annual report, while Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy and Arfawn Yasin, Head of Membership Services gave an update on Advice NI members.

Over the year 2017/2018, Advice NI dealt with more than 230,000 enquiries and over 52,000 of those concerned Welfare Reform. The Advice NI Business Debt Service advised on £22.2 million of debt and 4,828 people took advantage of Advice NI training.

You can read the full annual report including the members’ update here.

Finally, the day was concluded with a panel discussion between MLAs of each of Northern Ireland’s main political parties. The session was hosted by BBC Northern Ireland’s Economics & Business Editor John Campbell and the panel challenged the audience to use ask any and all questions they could about welfare reform.

Advice NI would like to extend their thanks to Power NI who provided sponsorship on the day.