The roll-out of Universal Credit should be halted due to the failure of the Department of Communities to provide clarity on the protections for the most vulnerable, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.
“Sinn Féin has always rigorously opposed the welfare cuts agenda,” the Foyle MLA commented.
“It’s not so long ago that we were being accused of bringing the Assembly to the point of collapse on this very issue.
“Despite the opposition of all the other parties, we were able to secure a £585 million package to mitigate the impact of welfare reform here and to prevent the kind of problems we have seen taking place in Britain.
“This package included halving the maximum sanction that can be imposed, agreed additional protections for lone parents and local political and administrative oversight to protect the most vulnerable.
“However, despite repeated requests, there is still no clarity about how these mitigation measures will be incorporated into the local roll-out. That isn’t good enough and the introduction of Universal Credit should be halted as a result.
“The department does have flexibility to support rather than punish people and they now need to exercise those powers.
“Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the department on that basis and it is important that all parties do so because the Tory Government will undoubtedly seek to continue their assault on the welfare system and the most vulnerable in our society.”