Cliff Edge NI Coalition Submission to the Joint Inquiry into Welfare Policy- what are the main points?

5 Jun 2019 Siobhan McAlister    Last updated: 17 Jul 2019

cliff edge coalition ni

The Cliff Edge Coalition NI is a group of over 70 organisations in NI who have joined together to express concern about the upcoming end of the welfare reform mitigations in March 2020.

Read the full submission here

These mitigations have protected the people of NI from some of the harshest impacts of welfare reform. Representatives from the Coalition will be giving oral evidence to the Joint Inquiry on 10 June.

The Coalition has two key campaign messages:

The protection in place to support people impacted by welfare reform through mitigations is due to end in March 2020.
It is important that people impacted by welfare reform in NI continue to be able to access support beyond March 2020. This support should take account of the new challenges people are facing, particularly Universal Credit

 

What has been the impact of the welfare reform mitigations package in NI?

It has protected claimants in NI from some of the most severe impacts of welfare reform. The full potential of the mitigation package has not yet been realised as there has been a significant underspend of £109.52m.

What is the Joint Inquiry into the Welfare Policy in NI?

The inquiry is being undertaken by the NI Affairs Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee at Westminster to assess the impact of welfare policy in NI including a focus on policies such as Universal Credit and the two-child limit. More information can be found here.

What are some of the main concerns raised in Cliff Edge NI Coalition response?

  • The full impact of welfare reform in NI has yet to hit. The introduction of Universal Credit is presenting a new challenge for the social security system in NI, with problems associated with the roll out and many claimants facing a drop in their income.
     
  • Access to the internet and IT literacy is causing a barrier for claimants applying for Universal Credit through the DWP computer system.
     
  • There has been a significant decrease in the number of discretionary support grants and loans provided to those claimants in financial crisis.
     
  • The accumulation of a number of cuts to social security has an acute impact on women and children especially those women who are lone parents. This includes the benefits freeze.
     
  • Concerns that the mechanism for split payments in NI is not working properly (as of May 2019, only 4 UC claims being paid in split payments).
     
  • There is a lack of support for employment, especially as the Cost of Living Allowance mitigation which would have provided additional payment to meet some of the cost of work has not been implemented.
     
  • Impact of the two-child policy creates financial disadvantage to those families with more than two children and will deepen the impact of poverty here.
     
  • Due to the higher prevalence of disability and illness in NI, the impacts of the transfer from DLA to PIP may be felt more acutely here. Thousands of claimants have been disadvantaged when assessed for PIP.
     
  • The mitigations have protected against the bedroom tax in NI for around 42,020 social sector households, saving them on average £50 per month. If this is lost, there would be significant arise in housing arrears, housing stress and homelessness.
     
  • Low income, privately-renting tenants do not have the same protection in place as social sector tenants, despite the fact there are significantly more households at-risk-of poverty after housing costs in the Private Rented Sector.

 

Read the full submission here

For information on joining #CliffEdgeNI Coalition, get in touch with [email protected]

 

 

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.
siobhan.mcalister@nicva.org's picture
by Siobhan McAlister

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]