Belfast Telegraph

Welfare budget 'could lose £100m'

Up to £100 million could be axed from Northern Ireland's welfare budget by changes ordered at Westminster, it has been claimed.

High dependency on social security and reliance on the public sector should be given true consideration when reform is considered, DUP MLA Simon Hamilton added.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have meet Chancellor George Osborne in London.

Mr Hamilton told the Assembly: "What I do not welcome is reform that, far from aiding the most vulnerable in our society, actually afflicts them most.

"What I do not welcome is Northern Ireland being dished out its share of £4 billion in social security spending cuts regardless of the consequences for people here."

He said the coalition cuts could take £100 million out of Northern Ireland.

The Strangford Assembly Member said Northern Ireland suffered from generational unemployment, economic inactivity and a sense of hopelessness for many people.

He added: "I warmly welcome any reforms targeted at helping those who can work to break the shackles of despair, gain employment and find a path out of poverty.

"Welfare should not be a lifestyle choice, it is a safety net not a comfy sofa to laze around on."

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has argued with the coalition about the cuts.

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