Belfast Telegraph

£450m in welfare cuts proposed

Up to £450 million could be stripped from Northern Ireland's welfare budget because of reduced funding from Westminster, it has been revealed.

The Government wants to encourage mothers to go back to work and is also planning a cut in housing benefits for those still jobless after a year.

However, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Northern Ireland is concerned what affect these cuts will have on the public.

Lucy Cochrane, a CAB spokeswoman in Northern Ireland said: "Citizens Advice is very concerned about the impact of the benefit cuts and many clients have already been contacting us and are frightened about how they will be affected, especially people who have long-term health problems.

"The cuts will not only impact those who are worse off financially but will also have an impact on the Northern Ireland economy.

"We are particularly unhappy with the plans for working tax credits and childcare provision which will actually narrow the goalposts for some people wishing to return to work."

From April, child benefit is to be frozen for three years, while those claiming Job Seekers Allowance will lose entitlement to the support for a mortgage interest scheme if they have been on benefits for two years in January.

The British Government also proposes that housing benefit will be reduced by a tenth if a claimant has been on the benefit for a year from April 2013, while a compulsory medical examination will be introduced for all new and existing working age Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants.

A total of £11 billion was taken out of welfare UK-wide following last summer`s emergency budget and another £7 billion was removed in last month's Comprehensive Spending Review.

The Coalition Government is determined to prevent people from making a "lifestyle choice" to remain on welfare and wants to support people back to work.

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