Detailed NI welfare proposals ‘not drawn up yet’

Tommy O'Reilly said the schemes were still being worked on by officials
Tommy O'Reilly said the schemes were still being worked on by officials

New measures to provide additional support to those set to lose benefits when welfare reforms are introduced in Northern Ireland have still to be drawn up by Stormont officials, an Assembly committee has been told.

The multi-million pound Executive-funded package envisaged in the Stormont House political deal to supplement the new-look benefits system will not form part of a major Stormont debate on the legislation on Tuesday, a senior official told the Social Development Committee.

Tommy O’Reilly, the chief executive of the Social Security Agency, said schemes were still being worked on by officials and had yet to be tabled before the Executive for approval.

“The detail of the schemes hasn’t yet been confirmed,” he said.

“The Stormont House Agreement has set down some parameters for those, officials are working on those still and they have to go back to the Executive in the first instance and that’s the proposal.”

He added: “The intention is they will be brought forward in the next number of weeks for agreement by the Executive.

“Ultimately it’s for the Executive to make the decisions as to what it wants in those schemes.”

The Stormont House deal finally resolved the long-running impasse over the introduction of the UK Government’s welfare reforms by addressing Sinn Fein concerns that some recipients would be adversely impacted.

The Executive has set aside tens of millions of pounds to support those whose payments would have dropped if the reformed welfare model in GB had been introduced in Northern Ireland unaltered.