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.”