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Cliff Edge Coalition calls on political party leaders to pledge to extend welfare reform mitigations

The Cliff Edge Coalition has written to the leaders of Northern Ireland’s five largest political parties seeking a public commitment from each to ensure urgently needed legislation to extend welfare reform mitigations, in place since 2016, is included on the Northern Ireland Executive agenda by the end of October.

Speaking on behalf of Cliff Edge Coalition, Siobhán Harding of the Women’s Support Network said: “Despite a commitment in the New Decade, New Approach Agreement and repeated discussions at meetings of ­the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Communities, the legislation required to progress an extension of the welfare reform mitigations package has still not been agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive.

“It is crucial that these vital measures remain in place. If the package is not extended on a permanent basis, over 32,000 households impacted by the Bedroom Tax and over 1,800 households impacted by the Benefit Cap will face increased hardship, debt and deepening poverty at a time of profound economic uncertainty.”

The Cliff Edge Coalition understands draft legislation has been prepared by the Department of Communities, however, consideration of the legislation is yet to take place at a Northern Ireland Executive meeting.

While thousands of households are protected by the mitigations package, many may not be aware that they receive this support. Yet, there is no doubt that failure to legislate to continue these protections would have a devastating impact on individuals and families across Northern Ireland.

Ms Harding finished by saying: “We are deeply concerned that if the legislation is not placed on the Executive agenda by the end of October, there will not be adequate time before the current Assembly mandate finishes to pass it. This is why Cliff Edge Coalition has written to party leaders ahead of this week’s NI Executive meeting calling for a commitment to progress this vital legislation.

“The time to act is short—the time to act is now.”