Northern Ireland Assembly
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The Assembly Committee for Social Development yesterday strongly urged people to respond to the Department of Social Development’s consultation on the impact of proposed changes to welfare reform here.

Committee Chairperson Alex Maskey MLA said: “The Committee is keen that the views of the public and organisations on the draft Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) are put to the Department. This consultation looks at the effect of the proposed changes to Welfare Reform here.

“The Welfare Reform Bill, will mean significant changes to how benefits are paid and the types of benefits available in Northern Ireland. This will have a very substantial impact on all those who currently claim or are entitled to benefits.

“It is vitally important that time is taken to consider the very particular social needs of our most vulnerable citizens.

“We would encourage all interested individuals and stakeholder groups to take this opportunity to make their views known and to highlight all concerns and issues.

“These views will help to ensure that we continue to protect and support our most vulnerable people while retaining a fair and sustainable welfare system.”

Notes to Editor:

The draft EQIA consultation period will run from 5 September 2011 until 30 November 2011. Copies of the draft EQIA consultation document can be obtained from the Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, Department for Social Development, Level 1, James House, 2 – 4 Cromac Avenue, Gasworks Business Park, Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 2JA. Alternatively you can telephone 028 9081 9103, textphone 028 9081 9140, fax 028 9081 9139. The document can also be accessed at /consultation

1. The Welfare Reform Bill was launched at Westminster in February 2011. The Westminster Bill is currently in the House of Lords and expected to gain Royal Assent in early 2012.

2. The Northern Ireland Assembly has devolved responsibility for Social Security benefits but in practice these are delivered on the basis / long standing principle, of parity i.e. an individual in Northern Ireland will receive the same benefits and be subject to the same conditions as an individual elsewhere in the UK.

3. The Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland will be introduced to the Assembly following Royal Assent of the UK Bill at Westminster.

4. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 places a statutory requirement on public authorities that in carrying out their functions, they will have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity:

  • between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
  • between men and women generally;
  • between persons with a disability and persons without; and
  • between persons with dependants and persons without.

The Committee for Social Development membership is:

Alex Maskey MLA (Chairperson)
Mickey Brady MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Gregory Campbell MLA, MP
Judith Cochrane MLA
Michael Copeland MLA
Sammy Douglas MLA
Mark H Durkan MLA
Alex Easton MLA
Pam Lewis MLA
Fra McCann MLA
David McClarty MLA

The Clerk of the Social Development Committee is:

John Simmons
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 90 521864
Mobile: 07900053929

Media enquiries to:
Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 9052 5938
Mobile: 078 998 64368

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