If the Welfare legislation is not passed by the Assembly until after the election, then nine weeks would have passed since it was meant to have been debated at the start of March. We will be paying £2million a week in fines to Westminster until welfare is agreed.
David Ford MLA said: “The decision by the SDLP to withhold their support for welfare legislation, and Sinn Fein’s U-turn twoweeks ago, has once again created doubt over Northern Ireland’s political and economic future.
“If we don’t resolve this issue before the election, then we will waste a further £18million in fines that we will be forced to pay to Westminster. This is £18million that we could have spent on protecting the vulnerable – the very same people that Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs claim they are trying to help.
“There have been lengthy talks to resolve this impasse – we now need parties to do the deal. Any decision to put the deal off until after the election will be a cynical attempt to chase votes, putting the needs of parties ahead of the needs of people.”