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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:00 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Mike Nesbitt Mike Nesbitt UUP 1:00 pm, 16th January 2017

You call them "protections". It is politics. We have disagreements, and we try to reach a position. When we cannot reach a unanimous position, the parties of government — the two parties in the castle — make the call, and God help the vulnerable.

There are people on benefits who should not be on benefits. I am not talking about fraud; I am talking about mental health and well-being. I have campaigned on this for four or five years. All the parties now say that they agree, but what have they done? What have they done? They have done nothing.

Here is our position on the bedroom tax: we do not have the housing stock to say to somebody in a multi-bedroom property, "You pay the penalty that is the bedroom tax, or you move". There is nowhere to move to because we do not have the stock. The reason why we think that it is a bad idea in principle is that, if you are building a new social housing unit, putting on a second bedroom is a marginal cost, and those units should be used by one, two, three or four families or one, two, three or four generations over that home's lifetime. For flexibility's sake, it makes sense to build multi-bedroom properties rather than having this huge focus, because somebody has said, politically, that it is a good idea, on single-bedroom properties.

We will support the regulations, which is consistent with our view on this specific element of welfare reform.