The proposed welfare reforms have been widely described as the most radical shake up of the social security system in over 40 years. The aim of the reforms and subsequent Bill is to simplify the benefits system, improve work incentives to encourage claimants to move from benefits to work and reduce administration costs. However, the implementation of the changes will impact upon a significant percentage of the working age population in Northern Ireland.
Presuming the near-inevitable happens and Welfare Reform (eventually) passes the Assembly, does Stormont need a dedicated committee for oversight? Scope speaks exclusively with Michael McMahon MSP, who convenes just such a group in Holyrood.
In 15 Asks for the Executive we focus on a range of issues the current Executive can either complete or significantly progress before the June 2016 Assembly elections.
NICVA and the Northern Ireland Advice Services Consortium have two priorites for the further consideration stage of the Welfare Reform Bill. They are - to create the right to independant advice and a change to how sanctions are implementated.
The Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Bill (2012) took place at the Assembly on Tuesday and Wednesday 10 & 11 Feb. Some 78 amendments and opposition to 17 clauses were debated over the course of 19 hours.
The Department of Finance and Personnel is consulting on options to replace the current rate rebates scheme in the long-term. NICVA hosted an event on 19 January 2015 for representatives from the voluntary and community sector.
At NICVA's recent conference the debate around welfare reform focused on the people here who will be most affected by the reforms and the plans that need to be made to ensure they do not fall further into poverty.