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Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland – Potential Impacts published

The Department for Social Development has today published the first in a series of reports which show the potential impact of Welfare Reform on local people.
Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The reports, which are based on the latest available data, examine for the first time how the proposed benefit changes will impact people in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the reports, Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, said: “The proposed changes to the benefit system here are the most substantial the Northern Ireland Assembly has ever seen. As a region, we have the highest levels of economic inactivity in the United Kingdom; there are over 120,000 households in Northern Ireland in which there is no-one working and there are over 60,000 children live in households where there is no adult working.

“I am encouraged to see that potentially 102,000 households will get more money under Universal Credit however I have serious concerns that 86,000 households may be entitled to less. That said, there is full protection in place at the point of transfer to Universal Credit as long as circumstances remain the same.”

Today’s reports, published by the Department, are based on the latest available data from the UK wide tax and benefits system and look specifically at the introduction of Universal Credit and the Benefit Cap.

Further reports on the impact of the introduction of Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, and housing related welfare reforms will be published in the coming weeks.

The Minister went on to say: “The report suggests that of the estimated 13,300 people that could be impacted by the Benefit Cap, around 620 may actually be affected due to safeguards in place to protect vulnerable groups including 3,510 households where there is a disabled child. The cap on the amount of benefit a household can receive will ensure that those who are unemployed do not receive more in social security payments than those who are in employment. This can only be seen as a positive move and one that is right for the taxpayer in Northern Ireland.

“I have said many times already that I have concerns about the potential impact of Welfare Reform on local people. I have been working closely with Ministers in Westminster to ensure that the particular needs of people here are taken into account, and I am pleased to say that I have made some progress in this regard. I will continue to work with Ministers in Westminster and with my Executive colleagues to mitigate against the most negative impacts of these reforms.”

Reports on the impact of the introduction of Universal Credit and Benefit Cap are now available at the DSD website

Notes to editors:

  1. The research was produced by the Analytical Services Unit of the Department for Social Development. It is based on the Policy Simulation Model used by the UK Tax and Benefit System designed by the Department for Work and Pensions.
  2. The Northern Ireland Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security but in practice this is delivered on the long standing principle of parity. i.e. an individual in Northern Ireland will receive the same benefits and be subject to the same conditions as an individual elsewhere in the UK.
  3. Subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive, the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland will result in changes to the benefits system.
  4. For more information on both Universal Credit, and the Benefit Cap, or indeed any of the Welfare Reform Bill proposals go to the nidirect website.
  5. Media enquiries to DSD Communications Team on 028 9082 9496 or email Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440.