Armstrong calls for suspension of universal credit here

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has called for the roll-out of universal credit here to be suspended due to a lack of clarity around planned mitigation measures.

She was speaking ahead of the Department for Communities’ planned phased launch of universal credit, which is due to begin on September 27. It is designed to replace six existing benefits with one. New claimants from the Limavady area are due to be the first here to claim it.

However, due to the lack of an Executive, statutory regulations which would normally mitigate against the bedroom tax part of universal credit have not been passed here. It will affect any new claimants, not those who will transfer over from their old benefits.

“The political impasse and lack of a functioning Executive means issues which would normally be addressed via a Minister, Committee and in the Chamber currently do not have that luxury. Changes to the welfare situation affect many people – with over 300,000 households expected to be impacted by the full roll-out of universal credit.

“A number of regulations relating to welfare reform were laid in the Assembly last year but these didn’t extend to universal credit. These regulations are needed to mitigate the bedroom tax within universal credit, so perform a vital function.

“Without a functioning Executive restored as soon as possible, these vital decisions will be left in limbo. Therefore until this issue is made clear, the universal credit scheme here should be suspended immediately, to stop any people here suffering unnecessarily.”

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