In Northern Ireland welfare expenditure is funded directly by HM Treasury but welfare policy is devolved to the local Assembly. There is an agreed principle that welfare policy in Northern Ireland will broadly mirror the rest of the UK.
In 2016-17 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spent £173 billion on benefits and pensions across the UK. This included £6 billion for claimants in Northern Ireland which was administered by the Department for Communities (DfC).
In 2010 the UK Government initiated an extensive programme of welfare reform involving changes to benefit entitlements, benefit rates and how benefits are paid. The UK Government has been rolling out these changes in England, Scotland and Wales since 2013 under the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
The Welfare Reform (NI) Order 2015, introduced in November 2015, makes provisions equivalent to the 2012 Act but with some specific mitigations and flexibilities including Northern Ireland Executive funded top-ups.
This position report will provide:
- an overview of the key elements of the UK Government’s welfare reforms;
- an overview of the mitigation arrangements and flexibilities unique to Northern Ireland; and
- commentary on the key challenges, impacts and risks arising from Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland.
This report may signpost potential Welfare Reform issues in Northern Ireland for further reporting in the coming years.
We aim to publish our report in Autumn 2018.