Siobhán Harding (Policy Worker at our Partner Organisation, Women’s Support Network) continues to work with the Cliff Edge Coalition on their Working Group to take forward and lobby for the extension and strengthening of the mitigations package in Northern Ireland.
The Coalition is currently campaigning to Close the Loopholes in the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap. A briefing paper on the issues around the loopholes was prepared by the Working Group.
Siobhán has helped to write to the Communities Committee members ahead of a Committee meeting and briefing from the Minister on mitigations on 17th June.
This correspondence highlighted the urgency of closing the loopholes before the summer recess and provided a copy of the briefing paper on the loopholes. It also outlined that over 1,000 households are impacted by the two loopholes and as time goes on that number will only continue to grow. The Coalition stated its concern about the devastating impact on families with children who are hit by the Benefit Cap with the latest figures showing some 900 families impacted by the Cap. For example, Housing Rights are working with a family with 4 children who are facing a Benefit Cap of £800 per month leaving them with a total income after housing costs which is 68% below the poverty line. The Coalition stressed that we do not want to see more families with children facing these devastating cuts to their income in these most difficult times.
Cliff Edge raised our concerns that if this is not done until after the summer recess we will be halfway through the financial year which means that much of the funding that has been allocated to protect people who are falling through the loopholes for 2021-22 will have to be handed back to the Department of Finance and lost from the families who need it most.