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Welfare Reform

Supreme Court judges have criticised the benefit cap.  The Supreme Court found that the policy failed to comply with Article 3 (1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  This article provides that “in all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. 

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Legal

Despite parties reaching broad agreement on welfare reform as part of the Stormont House agreement in December, Sinn Fein lodged a petition of concern yesterday.  The petition, also supported by the SDLP, effectively blocks further passage of the bill through the Assembly. 

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Welfare Reform, NI Assembly

The Welfare Reform Bill has been the subject of much discussion at the Assembly of late. During the Bill's consideration and further consideration stages a number of amendments were tabled. The majority of these amendments did not pass as they did not have cross community support.   The amended bill includes a duty on the Department for Social Devlopment to "ensure availability of advice and assistance" although an amendment to ensure that this advice was independent was negatived.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, NI Assembly

The Welfare Reform Bill will be subject to scrutiny in the Assembly next week.  The Social Development Committee will meet on Monday morning for a departmental briefing on the bill from Ms Anne McCleary and Mr Michael Pollock from the Department for Social Development.

Mervyn Storey, Minister for Social Development, will reintroduce the Bill to the Assembly for consideration stage on the 10 February.  

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, NI Assembly

With Welfare Reform back on the Assembly’s agenda, we look at one of the biggest housing welfare changes; the extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to applicants aged under 35.  Ursula Toner explains which young tenants should be entitled to the one bedroom rate of LHA because they are exempt from the SAR.

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Benefits, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Affordability

A new statutory instrument takes effect on 20 January that will allow for the uprating of Local Housing Allowance by up to 4% in certain parts of Northern Ireland.  This is to prevent certain areas becoming unaffordable to tenants in receipt of housing benefit. 

Which areas will be affected?

This legislation provides for the LHA rate for the following size of dwelling in the following areas to be increased by up to 4%:

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Benefits, Money Matters, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Affordability

Housing and welfare practitioners should note the following changes to social security legislation and update their resources accordingly. 

Habitual residence

There have been many recent changes to the rules around habitual residence recently.  Currently, only people who have been living in the Common Travel Area for at least 3 months can make a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

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Benefits, Minority Groups, Welfare Reform, Legal

The DUP has proposed a new fund to help those transitioning from Disability Living Allowance on to the new Personal Independence Payment.  

First Minister Peter Robinson has put the party’s proposals to Secretary of State Teresa Villiers.   Mr Robinson believes that these measures will mean many of the most vulnerable people in Northern Ireland will “come out of the transfer to PIP with the same level of payments or better off."

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, NI Assembly

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has published a report, funded by the Residential Landlords Association, which recommends a full review into the operation of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR).  

Limitations of shared housing

The report contains a number of interesting findings;

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Benefits, Outside NI, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform

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