The need for our unique benefit top-up package to continue is confirmed in the review by the Department for Communities, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.
Urging the department to begin work to ensure the package continues beyond the scheduled end in March 2020, the Foyle MLA also called on other political parties to back the scheme.
“In the Fresh Start Agreement Sinn Fein secured a unique package of benefit top-up to reduce the punitive effects of Tory welfare cuts. The departmental review is further evidence of the huge impact that the £585 million benefits mitigation package has had in terms of protecting the most vulnerable in this society,” she commented.
“Currently almost 40,000 tenants do not pay Bedroom Tax as a result of the mitigations funding. Families are protected from the Benefit cap and many others have benefited from a range of other supplementary payments, reducing the hardship caused by British Tory cuts to the Welfare system.
“The report highlights the need to continuing these protections. It also acknowledges that mitigations can be continued beyond March 2020 within the existing legislation.
“Sinn Féin has already called on the Department to begin working on this basis and I have discussed the need for ongoing mitigation with the other parties.
“The department’s review now provides a firm basis for cross-party agreement on a second phase of mitigations from March 2020 onwards.
“It is crucial that we continue to oppose the British Government policies of welfare cuts while also providing as much help as possible for those impacted by the Tory assault on the most vulnerable.”