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Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced the appointment of an Independent Advisory Panel to review welfare mitigation measures in the north. The Independent Advisory Panel will be chaired by Les Allamby, former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Mr Allamby will be joined by independent panel members and departmental officials with expertise in the field of social security and experience of dealing with people who access social security benefits.
The independent panel members include Louise Coyle, NI Rural Women’s Network; Liam Devine, Clanrye Group; Craig Harrison, Marie Curie; Kerry Logan, Cliff Edge NI Coalition and Housing Rights; Sinead McKinley, North Belfast Advice Partnership; Mark Simpson, UC:Us and Ulster University; Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People; and Jonathan Portes of King’s College, London.

The panel have recently commenced work and are expected to produce a final report by February 2022
Minister Hargey said“The welfare mitigation schemes were introduced in 2016 for a four year period ending on 31 March 2020. In the New Decade, New Approach Deal, the Executive agreed to extend the mitigation schemes and committed to a priority review of the welfare mitigation measures. I am clear that the need for this unique package of financial support is greater than ever and therefore I believe now is an appropriate time to commence the review. In carrying out the comprehensive review, I have asked the panel to engage with a wide range of people who access the social security system and with key stakeholders so that their voices are heard on these important issues.”

Panel chair Les Allamby said: “The current mitigations scheme has limited the adverse impact of issues such as the social size sector criteria and benefit cap for families. With the loss of the extra £20 a week in Universal Credit, the end of the furlough scheme and the increase in fuel prices, the need for social security mitigations to go towards keeping people out of poverty remains as important as ever. I am delighted to take on this important role with my panel colleagues. We look forward to hearing from people on social security and those working with claimants to consider the best way forward.”

If as a Group or an individual you would like to ensure your lived experience is taken into account by the review panel please make contact with any of the panel.  Consortium member Louise Coyle who is one of the independent panel members can be contacted directly to support you to do this in confidence.