Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Communities for an update on the progress of legislation to extend and strengthen the current welfare reform mitigation measures. [Priority Written]
Minister for Communities: The extension of the welfare mitigation measures will require new primary and secondary legislation. A draft Bill to amend the Welfare Reform (NI) Order 2015 to provide for an extension of welfare mitigation payments for people affected by the bedroom tax “bedroom tax” has been shared with Executive Ministers. Once agreement to proceed is secured I will ensure the draft Bill is introduced to the Assembly as a matter of urgency.
I will also be bringing forward new Regulations to provide for the extension of the remaining welfare mitigation schemes. These will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and I expect they will be laid shortly after the draft Bill is introduced.
Pending the approval of the new legislation my Department has introduced contingency arrangements to ensure that people who would otherwise be entitled to a welfare mitigation payment are not disadvantaged. In practice this means that mitigation payments are currently made under the sole authority of the Budget (No.2) Act. These arrangements continue to be kept under review and will be extended if necessary.