MPs to probe welfare in Northern Ireland

12 Apr 19

The impact of welfare policies in Northern Ireland will come under close scrutiny in London in the continuing absence of an executive in Stormont.

MPs plan to ask “serious questions” about universal credit, the two-child limit on benefits, and social security “mitigation” schemes to alleviate the effects of the bedroom tax and benefit cap.

The Northern Ireland affairs committee and the work and pensions committee have joined forces to launch a joint inquiry into how these policies are affecting people in the province.

Stormont has been without a functioning executive since January 2017 after a power-sharing agreement between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin broke down.

Nigel Mills, who will chair the inquiry, said: “Without a government in Northern Ireland, serious questions about the impact of welfare policies remain unanswered and important concerns risk being ignored.”

The committees will “share expertise to examine how the people of Northern Ireland are being affected by policies such as universal credit and the two-child limit,” he said.

The government’s two-child limit means that families cannot claim child benefits for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017.

A £585m pot to alleviate the impact of policies like bedroom tax and the benefit cap was created in 2016 but only runs until 2020. MPs will also look at the potential impact of ending these  payments.

In September the Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley announced that the country’s assembly members would get a pay cut of 15%.

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