Part of Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 17th February 2014.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 2:00 pm, 17th February 2014

I welcome the Member's view that resolving the issue is neither a simple nor straightforward matter.  I hope that an understanding across the House that it is not simple or straightforward will result in some patience and tolerance among Members, as well as the members of staff who are affected. 

No ring-fenced money has been put aside to deal with the issue.  Money was set aside for it in the past, should it have materialised that the Executive had a legal responsibility to settle it.  That money is no longer in place.  It is for the Executive to look at where money for resolving it might come from, if and when they decide to move forward with a solution.  Our job in finding that money is not made any easier — in fact, it is made considerably more difficult — when we see the squandering of £5 million a month through not progressing with welfare reform.