‘Bedroom tax’ top-ups to be extended: DfC

‘Bedroom tax’ mitigations will be extended past March 2020, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has promised.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:29 pm

SDLP social justice spokesman Mark H. Durkan welcomed the move but said a wider programme of protections was needed.

“The disastrous roll-out of welfare reform has hit our communities hard. The announcement from Communities Minister Hargey, that the Executive will extend mitigations beyond March 2020 is very welcome but the matter requires a long-term approach. It demands a significantly strengthened package that will protect claimants from all aspects of Welfare Reform, already adversely affecting some of society’s most vulnerable, including the bedroom tax,” he said.

Payments against the Social Size Sector Criteria - commonly known to as the ‘bedroom tax’ - were among £585m in welfare mitigations agreed as part of the Fresh Start Agreement in 2015. Under ‘New Decade, New Approach’ it was agreed to extend the mitigation measures beyond March 2020.

Ms. Hargey said: “In the coming weeks I will introduce new legislation to extend this essential mitigation, which will continue to safeguard more than 38,000 of the most vulnerable households in our society from harsh Tory welfare cuts.”

But Mr. Durkan said: “The SDLP criticised the roll-out of welfare reform from day dot; it should’ve never come to pass. We have long been opposed to the callous Tory welfare cuts that have been supported by DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance. We were clear that the best way to protect people from welfare reform was to vote against it and that is what the SDLP did.”