Housing Benefit (Welfare Supplementary Payment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:15 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 1:15 pm, 16th January 2017

I thank Mr McCann for giving way. He is in full flow, and it is important that he make the relevant points that he wants to make.

I go back to the origins of this. For the record, the Executive, for all the faults and failings that people, including us, have identified, made the political choice to make available from the block grant, because we could not get it out of the Tories in London, and spend over £500 million over a four-year period, after which there will be a full review of the efficacy of any of the supplementary payments. We made that £500 million-plus available over four years. We gave it over to an independent panel that was led by Professor Eileen Evason and included eminent members of the wider community, voluntary and professional sectors. Those people identified the best way of protecting the most vulnerable from that pool of money of over £500 million.

The Member talks about the 34,000 people. Other parties here have lamented the situation over the past number of weeks, but they voted against the money to pay for the mitigation measures. Whatever they argue, they voted against the £500 million-plus of benefits that we put forward to subsidise against British Tory cuts being imposed by London. When other parties in the House objected to and voted against the £500 million-plus package, not one of their Members offered, proposed or suggested an extra single pound to come out of any other part of the Budget to go towards further mitigations. We would have welcomed and supported that. At least acknowledge that the Executive paid for this out of the Budget. The civic sector and —