Mallon: Department must prepare Welfare Mitigation Backstop
“The March 2020 deadline for a resolution to welfare mitigations is fast approaching and it’s critical that we exhaust all avenues to protect the tens of thousands of people facing the hardship of the Bedroom Tax and the Benefit Cap.
“It is essential that the Department for Communities prepares an alternative mechanism to secure mitigations as a method of last resort if it is not possible for an Executive and Assembly to legislate. The Department has confirmed that Discretionary Housing Payments for example, could be used in this scenario to protect those currently shielded from the Bedroom Tax but it is not without significant administrative and financial challenge.
“The SDLP’s focus is on seeing a local government in place that protects and empowers all of its citizens. However a cliff edge of debt, despair and homelessness is looming in nine months when mitigations run out. It is critical that the Department for Communities is prepared for all eventualities and that includes a backstop to protect those most in need.”