Northern Ireland Assembly
Nelson McCausland (DUP)
As I pointed out already, we met Iain Duncan Smith and others in the Department for Work and Pensions just a few weeks ago. They are obviously in advance of us, because they already have their legislation through and completed. We are at the preparatory stage at the moment, because we could not start until the legislation had gone through Westminster. There was some uncertainty there as to the exact implications. I was simply highlighting the fact that it is, therefore, not unexpected that there are some uncertainties as yet here in Northern Ireland.
We know that there will be an impact, but it would be impossible to predict the precise detail of it at this stage. However, we are now working on further information that has become available. The difficulty is that the focus up to now has been largely on working out implications in Great Britain. Now there is more focus on doing that work in Northern Ireland, and our officials are working on modelling schemes to try to get to the bottom of it. Even thus far, the impact that you might predict and the actual outcome at the end may not be exactly the same. At the early stage, we thought that there would be a lot more applications for the discretionary payments than there actually were. There were a lot fewer than we anticipated.