Northern Ireland

Welfare reform: Theresa Villiers says no sign of breakthrough

Theresa Villiers
Image caption Theresa Villiers met the executive parties on Friday for another review of the Stormont House Agreement

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has said there is no sign of an imminent breakthrough in the impasse over welfare reform.

She was speaking after meeting the executive parties for another review of the Stormont House Agreement.

The current impasse began earlier this month after Sinn Féin withdrew its support for welfare reform legislation.

The talks are focussing on the scope of a benefit top-up scheme to be funded from the Stormont budget.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has previously said that no additional money could be allocated to resolve the current impasse.

He said any resolution would be on the basis of the £90m per year previously set aside for welfare reform mitigation measures.

The Northern Ireland parties have held a number of meetings to resolve the impasse, but no agreement has been reached yet.

A deal had been agreed by the Northern Ireland parties on Westminster's welfare reform in the Stormont House Agreement in December.

The issue had previously threatened the future of the Northern Ireland power-sharing executive.

When Sinn Féin withdrew its support earlier this month, it accused the DUP of going back on what had been agreed.

The DUP rejected this, saying there had never been the money for all the things Sinn Féin wanted and that Sinn Féin had been aware of this.

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