Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland welfare delays to cost £200m a year

MICHAEL McHUGH

Delays to welfare reform in Northern Ireland could cost the Stormont Executive £200m a year by 2017, it was revealed.

Tens of millions of pounds may need to be found from elsewhere in the budget if the block grant from London which runs public services is cut to compensate for a failure to deliver benefits savings, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has warned.

Westminster reforms include a new universal credit to replace child tax credit and housing benefit.

But the legislation is still going through the Assembly.

Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said: "Whilst the penalty currently stands at £5m a month, it is expected that this will increase significantly as welfare reforms are rolled out in Great Britain and will reach an estimated £200m per annum by 2017-18."

Chancellor George Osborne has indicated it would be necessary to make further savings in welfare costs after the General Election.

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