Alliance spokesperson on Welfare, Trevor Lunn MLA, has called for Sinn Féin and the DUP to give a commitment to people on welfare benefits that they will restore the Assembly before 31 March 2020.
Trevor Lunn said: “I was one of five political representatives who wrote to the Secretary of State urging him to extend the Welfare Mitigations Schemes, which are due to end next March, in the absence of a functioning Assembly.
“The latest update from the NIO published on 29 November on the welfare mitigations sets out how the Department for Communities is to commence a programme of engagement with claimants who will be impacted by the termination of the support programme.
“Worryingly, this update also states that as no decision has been taken as to the nature of financial support from 1 April 2020 officials will continue to work on exploring all options. The Secretary of State has suggested he will not intervene, so it is essential that local politicians come together to resolve a local problem.
“The Secretary of State has said that fresh negotiations to restore the Assembly will begin on 16 December. The DUP and Sinn Féin need to step up and give a commitment that they will put the interests of our most vulnerable at the top of their priority list and get the Assembly back working on extending the mitigation support scheme.
“During 2018/19, over £62 million was paid in welfare supplementary payments to 72,590 claimants. Without this money people will be pushed into poverty. We cannot allow that to happen.”