DUP MLAs discuss welfare mitigations with DfC officials

17 September 2019

DUP MLAs Carla Lockhart and Keith Buchanan have met with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities.  During the meeting there were a number of issues discussed.  High on the agenda was welfare reform mitigations particularly the looming bedroom tax which will affect around 34,000 households. If there is no Assembly before 31st March this charge will be implemented.

DUP MLAs discuss welfare mitigations with DfC officials

Carla Lockhart MLA

Carla Lockhart

DUP MLAs Carla Lockhart and Keith Buchanan have met with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities.  During the meeting there were a number of issues discussed.  High on the agenda was welfare reform mitigations particularly the looming bedroom tax which will affect around 34,000 households. If there is no Assembly before 31st March this charge will be implemented.

The DUP team also discussed ongoing issues with PIP, including the special rule which applies to terminally ill applicants and the appeal process and how it is having a negative effect on some applicants.

Speaking after the meeting the MLAs said, “We want to thank the Permanent Secretary for the meeting and for the useful update from the Department. There are many issues within their remit that impact on constituents and it is very important to have open dialogue in this regard.

The message was very clear without a functioning Executive people will suffer.  Mitigation is due to end on the 31st March 2020 and without Ministerial decision making powers it will have a major impact on some of the most vulnerable in society. Those who collapsed Stormont did so without consideration for these people. Their red-lines preventing its restoration continue to punish all those who will be impacted by the changes.

There are 34,000 people who face being subjected to the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.  This will have a major impact on so many families and may well push people into further financial problems.

We also discussed PIP special rules and the need for change on this matter. People who have received a terminal diagnosis should not have their final days consumed with form filling, medical interviews and appeals.  There must be a complete review of this 6-month rule.

There was also an opportunity to discuss other issues surrounding appeals and once again these are something where a functioning Executive could ensure strategic direction is offered. There is one party blocking the restoration of devolution and their actions continue to punish some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

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