Northern Ireland

Welfare reform to be discussed at conference

Coins and notes Image copyright PA

A conference dealing with the impact of welfare reform is due to get underway in Belfast later.

The event will be hosted by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and other community organisations.

Northern Ireland is being penalised by the Treasury for not endorsing welfare reforms passed by Westminster in 2013.

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey will be one of the speakers along with experts from around the UK.

Mr Storey said: "Having listened to the concerns expressed by different groups in Northern Ireland about the impact of welfare reform, a package of measures has been developed with the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury.

Image caption Mervyn Storey: "This conference gives delegates the opportunity to test these measures"

"This package is the envy of both Scotland and Wales, and delivering this package shows how local politicians can deliver real change for Northern Ireland.

"This conference gives delegates the opportunity to test these measures with the speakers from Great Britain, on whether they would help alleviate some of the worst impacts introduced by the Welfare Reform Bill in Great Britain."

Sinn Féin is opposed to the welfare reforms.

The Treasury's fines amount to £114m which will be withheld from next year's budget.

One of the organisations involved in the event said the proposed cuts outlined in the finance minister's paper will further impact on people in need.

Advice NI said they were already snowed under by those wanting help and they fear the numbers looking for advice and assistance will rise even further.

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