Stewart Dickson MLA said: “As a result of the political games between the SDLP and Sinn Fein, we have had to take £15million out of our budget to cover the financial penalties for the remaining three months of this financial year. We must reach agreement on the welfare reform bill to stop these financial penalties.
“These political parties have acted irresponsibly. It is unacceptable that money will be taken out of our schools and hospitals to cover this financial penalty.
“I do not support all the measures contained within the welfare reform bill, however the place to reject these proposals was Westminster.
“The Social Development Minister has already secured a number of changes to the legislation. Political parties must now be honest with the public about the level of further amendments that can be made without severe financial cost. Any further possible refinements can now only be made by progressing the legislation through the Assembly and Social Development Committee.”