The full impact of welfare reform has yet to hit Northern Ireland.
Time, however, is running out for the current mitigation package (agreed as part of the Fresh Start Agreement in 2015), which expires at the end of March 2020.
Those measures have gone some way towards shielding people in Northern Ireland from the more severe effects of the UK Government’s overhaul of the benefits system.
The Department of Health has highlighted a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental ill health in Northern Ireland than in England. Approximately 30% of Northern Ireland’s population lives with some form of mental ill health. Impacts arising from welfare reform may, therefore, be felt more acutely here than in Great Britain.
What should devolved government do about this?
Inspire is a member of the Cliff Edge Coalition NI. We are calling on devolved government to extend, and strengthen, the mitigation support in Northern Ireland, beyond the March deadline. Should such measures expire, the implications will be severe for a region experiencing especially high instances of mental ill health and addiction. A new package must pay particular attention to challenges stemming from Universal Credit.
Click here to read the Coalition’s submission to the joint inquiry on welfare policy, undertaken by Westerminster’s NI Affairs Committee and Work and Pensions Committee in 2019.
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