Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Welfare policy in Northern Ireland inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Inquiry launched on Thursday 11 April 2019; the deadline for written submissions was Friday 24 May 2019.

Scope of the inquiry

The Northern Ireland Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees are holding a joint inquiry into welfare policy in Northern Ireland. The inquiry follows the passage of the Northern Ireland Budget Act which set out funding for NI departments, and the upcoming end in 2020 of the social security ‘mitigation’ package put in place by the NI Executive. The inquiry will consider the impact of the mitigation package, the operation of Universal Credit (including alternative payment arrangements) and the effect of the two-child limit.

The social security ‘mitigation package’—an additional £585m of welfare spending put in place by the NI Executive as part of the Fresh Start Agreement—is due to end in 2020. The package currently provides payments to people to offset the benefit cap and the ‘bedroom tax’. The inquiry will examine the likely impact of the spending ending in 2020 and the effects of having higher levels of welfare entitlement in Northern Ireland.

It will also look at the operation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, including issues with housing arrears and deductions, and how the alternative payment arrangements—which allow people to get UC payments on a different frequency or split them between members of a household—are working in practice. The inquiry will also consider the impact of the two-child limit—the Government’s policy that families can’t claim child benefits for any third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017—in Northern Ireland.

Send us your views

The Committee would like to hear your views on the following questions. We are interested in hearing from people with personal experience of the issues—such as using the Universal Credit system in NI—as well as policy organisations and expert groups.

You can respond as an individual, a group or an organisation. You don’t need to answer all of the questions.

Terms of Reference

  • What has been the impact of the NI Executive social security 'mitigation package'?
  • What would be the likely effects of the mitigation package coming to an end in 2020?
  • What, if anything, should replace the mitigation package from 2020?
  • What are the effects of having higher levels of welfare entitlement in Northern Ireland? Is it feasible for Northern Ireland to have differing levels of welfare entitlement in the long term?
  • How well is Universal Credit working in Northern Ireland? Are there issues with Universal Credit that are specific to Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK?
  • Do people in Northern Ireland benefit from the flexibility to have Universal Credit paid at a different frequency or with split payments?
  • What is the impact of the two-child limit on families in Northern Ireland?
  • Do social housing tenants in Northern Ireland (including NIHE tenants) regularly experience rent arrears? What are the reasons for this? What level of deductions do tenants face to pay back arrears?

The deadline for written submissions was Friday 24 May 2019

 

Terms of reference:

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