Minister must outline plan to provide protection from triple hit end of financial aid, says Armstrong

COVID-19 Communities Kellie Armstrong Welfare

The Communities Minister must outline how individuals and families will be protected once a number of support provisions close at the end of September, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.

Speaking as the “triple hit” of the end of the emergency notice to quit provision, contained in the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Bill, the end of support from the furlough scheme and the cut to Universal Credit is fast approaching, Kellie said the Minister must communicate her plan for all affected.

“There has been very little communication from the Department for Communities to highlight the post Covid changes coming,” she said.

“I have been contacted by several constituents concerned their tenancy will come to an end once the COVID protection period ends. One constituent contacted me very concerned their landlord intends selling their home, but rather than giving the current 12 weeks’ notice, is waiting until October when the tenant will be given four weeks’ notice. The Minister’s planned changes to the Private Tenancies legislation is still not legislation.

“The government has expected more people will face unemployment from the end of September when the furlough scheme ends. Without government support some businesses cannot afford to meet full salary costs and many people will have to turn to Universal Credit and suffer the five week assessment period when no benefits are paid.

“The removal of the £20 per week Covid uplift will have the most impact on people who are already struggling. To face the loss of £100/£120 per month will increase the number of children living in poverty. We should be helping to lift people out of poverty, not sinking them further into financial stress.

“We still await the Communities review of Welfare Mitigations. As there is no clear plan in place, the Department can only provide the current level of mitigations meaning the Minister will not prevent some from bedroom tax or the two child cap.

“This Government needs to deliver and commit to ending poverty. People on low income and benefits face a bleak future of financial stress. I am calling on Communities to bring forward plans for Welfare Mitigations to protect families and individuals this Autumn and Winter.”