Social workers welcome MPs’ call for extension of welfare reform mitigation
The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) warmly welcomes a report produced by two influential Westminster committees which recommends extending, for a further four years, the arrangements currently in place to lessen impacts on individuals and families in Northern Ireland resulting from the UK Government’s welfare reform programme.
In addition to seeking the continued mitigation of impacts associated with the “bedroom tax” and loss of benefits for people moving from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments, the report by the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and Work and Pensions Committee calls for a halt in the implementation of the Universal Credit two-child limit in Northern Ireland.
Speaking following the report’s publication, BASW NI National Director Carolyn Ewart, said: “In supporting our service users, social workers witness the impacts of poverty daily. As poverty grows, many social problems intensify, and this in turn increases demand for social work services.
“There are well recognised links between a family’s socio-economic circumstances and the chances that their children will experience neglect or abuse, with the likelihood and severity of neglect or abuse increasing as poverty worsens. BASW NI is therefore delighted the committees have recommended the mitigation package currently in place is extended for four years beyond March 2020 when it will otherwise run out.”
BASW NI has campaigned to see the Universal Credit two-child limit scrapped since it was introduced in April 2017. The limit means a family is unable to access benefits—worth £2,780 a year—for a third, or additional child born since 6 April 2017.
Commenting on the committees' recommendation that the UK Government should halt the implementation of the two-child limit in Northern Ireland and reimburse any families who have been affected by its introduction, Ms Ewart said: “Few families, least of all those already struggling to make ends meet, could afford to cope with the reduction in their income which results from the Universal Credit two-child limit. The committees’ recommendations mark a positive cross-party approach to mitigating the problems that have been caused by welfare reform. It is now incumbent on the Northern Ireland Secretary of State to advance the recommendations as a matter of urgency.
Contact—Andy McClenaghan, BASW NI Public Affairs and Communications Officer
Phone: 028 9064 8873
Mobile: 07702 517560