Cochrane says delays to Welfare Reform Bill will have financial implications

Alliance Social Development spokesperson Judith Cochrane MLA has said that any delay to the Welfare Reform Bill will have financial implications for Northern Ireland. The Assembly discussed the option to send the Bill to an Assembly ad-hoc Committee to ensure it conforms with human rights and equality laws. If the Bill is not implemented by the 1st April, there would be implication for the Social Fund under threat which provides £200 million of benefits to deal with emergency incidents.

Judith Cochrane MLA said: “The Alliance Party is a strong supporter of Equality and Human Rights issues and believes every decision that the Assembly and Executive makes should be compliant with equality laws, however we are on a very tight timetable and any delay to this Bill will have financial implications.

“These issues should have been dealt with by the Social Development Committee during the Committee stage of the Bill. The parties that are pressing for this ad-hoc Committee to be set up had the opportunity to raise their concerns during the equality impact assessment process, and I believe that some parties did not do this.

“If they had cleared this Bill through the Executive earlier then we would have had more time for its scrutiny.

“If we miss the 1st April deadline then the Social Fund, worth £200 million, may be under threat. This includes crisis loans, maternity grants and cold weather payments for the vulnerable.”


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