Stormont ‘will pay heavy price for rejecting welfare reform’


Stormont is free to reject the Government’s welfare reforms – but if it does so it will have to face the financial consequences, the Secretary of State will today say.

Theresa Villiers will say that as well as the massive financial burden such a decision would entail, it would mean retaining “a flawed system which too often leaves people trapped on welfare and punished for doing the right thing and going out to work”.

The Secretary of State’s comments, which will be delivered this morning at Presbyterian headquarters Church House in Belfast, were released by the NIO last night.

Ms Villiers will add: “There should be no doubt that the cost of that choice [to reject welfare reform] could rise steeply in future years – not least when the computers supporting the old system are shut down and the Executive is left with the prohibitively expensive and difficult task of procuring and running their own system.”

Ms Villiers will also urge nationalists to lift their veto of the National Crime Agency (NCA) operating fully within Northern Ireland, arguing that there is a need to “put common sense and the interests of the public above ideology”.

Highlighting that a recent Criminal Justice Inspectorate report estimated that the Executive now spends over £30 million a year on “legacy issues”, Ms Villiers will say that there is an urgent need for “a fresh approach on the past” because of the increasing pressure on the state institutions such as the police and the Police Ombudsman.