Kevin Higgins talks Welfare Reform mitigations on Sunday Politics

Our Head of Policy, Kevin Higgins, spoke with Mark Carruthers on Sunday Politics Northern Ireland about the March 2020 mitigations cliff edge.

Please note: Official Report: Tuesday 08 September 2020

DfC Minister Ms Ní Chuilín: The New Decade, New Approach deal included a commitment to extend the welfare mitigation schemes that my Department currently delivers. That was to ensure continued assistance for vulnerable people who have lost their benefit due to welfare reform. I can confirm that I absolutely intend to introduce primary legislation to amend the Welfare Reform (NI) Order 2015 to provide for an extension of welfare mitigation payments for people affected by the so-called bedroom tax. A draft Bill has been shared with my Executive colleagues, and I am personally committed to securing agreement to proceed as a matter of urgency. I will also bring forward new regulations to provide for the extension of the remaining mitigation schemes. They will be draft affirmative, and I expect that they will be laid shortly after the Bill has been introduced. While the delay in progressing the legislation to extend the mitigation schemes is not ideal, I stress that my Department continues to make payments to people who are eligible. That is possible because my Department has agreed contingency arrangements with the Department of Finance so that payments are currently made under the sole authority of the Budget (No. 2) Act. Those arrangements will continue and will be kept under review.

Last week we sent out a press release warning of the looming crisis of child poverty, hunger and mass evictions caused by end of mitigations for bedroom tax and benefit cap - NI on the brink of 'welfare mitigations' disaster.

This potential impact includes:
  • Bedroom Tax set to hit Northern Ireland from March 2020
  • 34,000 Bedroom Tax households set to lose support totalling £22million
  • Fears of a housing crisis, as thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of tenants find themselves unable to pay their rent, falling into arrears and over the cliff edge of eviction
  • Affected Bedroom Tax households set to lose on average £12.50 per week
  • Benefit Cap set to hit Northern Ireland from March 2020
  • 1,500 Benefit Cap families with children set to loose support totalling £3million
  • Affected Benefit Cap households set to lose on average £47 per week
  • Children in the firing line as all of the households protected from benefit cap are families with children
  • Sick, disabled and carers impacted by March 2020 cliff edge
  • Thousands of sick, disabled and their carers set to see their mitigations support prematurely end in March 2020
Our Head of Policy, Kevin Higgins, recently appeared on Sunday Politics Northern Ireland to talk about the end of the mitigations package and how this will impact people across Northern Ireland.