New Minister warns Boris Johnson Welfare Reform needs to be reversed

New Communities Minister, Sinn Fein MLA Dierdre Hargey and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
New Communities Minister, Sinn Fein MLA Dierdre Hargey and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Newly appointed Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has highlighted concerns on the Welfare Reform system with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Minister was speaking after a meeting with Executive colleagues and Mr Johnson on Monday to discuss the budget outworkings of ‘New Decade, New Approach’ deal.

How much money the government will provide to tackle a range of pressing concerns, including a fresh Welfare Reform mitigations package for the people of the north, has not been made known.

As it currently stands, the mitigations secured five years ago as Universal Credit and other reforms to benefits were introduced here, runs out in March, with fears the bedroom tax and other reforms will be fully rolled out if another package of mitigations is not secured in the coming weeks.

Speaking after the meeting with the British Prime Minister, the Sinn Féin MLA said: “I used the opportunity to inform the British Prime Minister Johnson of my views on Welfare Reform which I believe is having a negative impact on people here and needs to be reversed.

“These austerity measures are punishing the most disadvantaged in our society.

“I also raised the serious concerns that I and many others have with the punitive two child cap policy, which will exacerbate child poverty, and also the special rules for claiming benefits for people with a terminal illness.

“I highlighted the need for recurrent funding for welfare mitigations in order to protect those already struggling as a result of welfare reform, from being penalised further.

“My Department is working at a pace to ensure that in line with ‘New Decade, New Approach’ the immediate matter of extension of welfare mitigations takes place from 31st March.”