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Northern Ireland Minister unveils £23m welfare scheme extension


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Northern Ireland Minister unveils £23m welfare scheme extension

Image caption Michelle O’Neill and Deirdre Hargey announced the proposals at Stormont on Monday Plans for an extension of welfare mitigations to the so-called bedroom tax have been announced by the minister for communities.The scheme currently provides financial support to people who would otherwise have faced welfare cuts.But it was due to run out on…

Northern Ireland Minister unveils £23m welfare scheme extension

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill and Deirdre Hargey

Image caption

Michelle O’Neill and Deirdre Hargey announced the proposals at Stormont on Monday

Plans for an extension of welfare mitigations to the so-called bedroom tax have been announced by the minister for communities.

The scheme currently provides financial support to people who would otherwise have faced welfare cuts.

But it was due to run out on 31 March.

About 38,000 households in Northern Ireland are in receipt of supplementary payments, which protect them from the tax, the Department for Communities said.

The minister Deirdre Hargey said the proposal would cost £23m per annum.

“We have a responsibility to protect the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” said Ms Hargey.

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She said the executive agreed her recommendation on Monday.

Northern Ireland ‘Protecting the disadvantaged’

It was first outlined in New Decade, New Approach – the deal that restored devolution after three years of political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

“A society is judged on how we protect the most disadvantaged,” she added.

“I am a minister who will fight to protect those families living in poverty; low-income families, single-parent families, those with disabilities and children and young people. I am working hard to target resources towards those most in need.”

She said there were other mitigations “which need to be looked at” and she will be working with stakeholders “in moving forward with that important piece of work”.

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