Effects of the Stormont crash on bedroom tax mitigations…

One of the notable features of that interview with the ‘naughty ministers’ on Newsline a couple of nights ago was Paul Given’s reference to the effect of forestalling of a functional budget, which follows Sinn Fein’s hasty (and unplanned) withdrawal. Here’s Digital View on the bedroom tax: A screening report published by the Department for Communities found that around 34,000 households could be affected by the policy, with average losses reaching up to £20.42 per week. Ms McCauley added: “Housing … Read more

Evason’s timebound benefit tapering means losses kick in after the Assembly election …

Nothing demonstrates the zero gravity of NI politics more than the nationalist reaction to the Evason report. The SDLP who fought a rearguard action on welfare cuts welcomed it even though it contains for the first time, time bound benefits. They reason that she has implemented some of the measures they proposed but were blocked by joint Sinn Fein and DUP action. Sinn Fein on the other hand have said nothing, except to put out this presser (under the bylines of … Read more

Should Northern Ireland follow Finland’s example and consider a universal basic income for all?

Anti poverty campaigners and economics geeks alike have reason to be cheerful this week with the news that Finland is to carry out a trial of a basic income. A basic income, in its purest sense, is a non means-tested payment to all citizens regardless of income or wealth which replaces existing benefits such as unemployment benefit. The Finnish trial, which has been developed at the behest of new centre-right Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and is supported across the political … Read more

Budget 2016- Simple changes could make a big difference to families

Louise Bayliss is a mother and works with the SPARK campaign and Equality Budgeting Campaign. In the first of our new series looking at what Budget 2016 should do, she outlines exactly what Minister Noonan needs to address in order to meet the needs of many struggling families. In Budget 2012, Minister Burton, as Minister for Social Protection, announced wide ranging reforms to the One Parent Family Payment. These changes have now been fully implemented and the effect on the … Read more

The welfare crisis deepens. The DUP are making common cause with Sinn Fein over George Osborne’s cuts

The Guardian’s Politics Live feature reports an analysis of the impact of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on the working poor.  Read across locally, it has the effect of adding the DUP’s opposition to the UK’s government’s budget strategy  to Sinn Fein’s, albeit on more limited grounds. The analysis was made by the highly reputable, unbiased House of Commons library and commissioned by Frank Field, the veteran free thinking Labour MP who is a leading authority on welfare and social policy. … Read more

“I think [UK Government] will take the power [of welfare] back themselves, I think they will legislate for it”

Stop to draw breath in Northern Ireland politics and someone sneaks out and tinkers with the chain of teetering dominoes. To be fair the Stormont House Agreement dominoes were falling quite smoothly until the Monday morning after Sinn Féin’s ard fheis when their U-turn on welfare reform was announced and the party stuck a hand out and took a few of the black oblongs off the table and stopped the sequence. Arlene Foster – on her first day in her … Read more

It’s time we actually debate welfare reform

After weeks of debate about welfare reform in Northern Ireland, it must be said that we haven’t actually debated welfare or reform. In fact, the argument, at its core, has been about power and responsibility, which, at this point, neither the DUP or Sinn Féin seem to want. We desperately need leadership and we’re not getting it. The debate about welfare reform should be about how to simultaneously protect the vulnerable from harsh cuts while balancing the government books. Instead, … Read more

Immigration detention conditions slammed. Larne plans move ahead.

With the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) moving ahead with plans to open a short-term “immigration removal centre” in Larne, concerns were heightened today with the publication of a damning report by HM Inspector of Prisons into Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre and Short Term Holding Facility near Heathrow. Colnbrook is operated by private company Serco on behalf of UKBA and is just the latest such centre to be the focus of significant criticism in a HM Inspector of Prisons report. A whole series of reports … Read more

Clash looms with Westminster over welfare to work

 This could be a very thorny issue for the Assembly and Executive.  Nearly all the local parties will hate the coalition’s welfare to work policies. Politically they wouldn’t dare do otherwise. But this pushes them right up against their limitations. Alex Attwood the SDLP’s Social Development minister has branded as  “Thatcherite” the coalition’s plans to cut welfare payments for at least three months if voluntary work is not accepted. The Scots are also up in arms. But the Scots appear to … Read more

Tory welfare reform, or social Blitz Krieg?

I was struck by George Osborne’s announcement on benefits cuts, but having moved out into the sticks whilst Slugger Central has a new back wall put to it, I missed the opportunity to blog it. Lee beat me to it, and made on of the points I would have made: The idea of capping the welfare levels is an interesting one that has a basis in the principle of fairness.  However, you do wonder if it is a means of … Read more