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How the welfare storm has unfolded...

By Rebecca Black

March 8, 2012: The Welfare Reform Bill gains Royal Assent and was introduced into law for the rest of the UK.

October 1, 2012: Welfare Reform Bill introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

October 9, 2012: Bill debated by the Assembly, sparking strong opinions.

February 14, 2013: Assembly votes that the Bill should be dealt with by an ad hoc committee specially set up to deal with the welfare reform proposals.

April 8 - May 22, 2013: A host of amendments are proposed for debate on the welfare reform proposals. However, the Consideration Stage for the Bill in the Assembly has still not taken place.

October 2013: Westminster threatens Stormont with financial sanctions unless it passes the Welfare Reform Act, namely taking £5m a month from Stormont funding from January, rising to £200m by 2017-18.

Also, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action along with Sheffield Hallam University launches a report on the impact the welfare reforms would have. It finds that approximately £750m per year less will be spent in Northern Ireland in 2014-15 than would be the case were the reforms not to proceed. This works out at £650 for every adult of working age in Northern Ireland, compared to the GB equivalent of £470. The loss is particularly high in more deprived areas such as Strabane, Londonderry and Belfast.

January 2014: A deadline for the parties to agree to welfare reform passes without agreement.

August 2014: The DUP clashes with Sinn Fein over its refusal to accept the proposed welfare reforms, with Finance Minister Simon Hamilton accusing Sinn Fein of "burying their heads in the sand".

September 2014: In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph First Minister Peter Robinson says he feels the system of government he heads is no longer capable of taking effective decisions.

October 2014: Welfare reform becomes one of the major issues discussed during multi-party talks chaired by US envoy Gary Hart in Belfast.

November 2014: Finance Minister Simon Hamilton publishes a draft budget with money set aside to introduce an amended version of the Welfare Reform Bill.

December 19, 2014: Parties agree a common position on welfare reform.

Belfast Telegraph


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