Stormont has powers to set social security rates

CORRESPONDENCE received in response to concerns raised by the local Council over the cessation of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit during Covid, has shown Stormont has the powers” to set its own Social Security rates.

Previously a member tried to raise this point but was prevented by what he described as “misinformation”.

The Chief Executive Alison McCullagh explained a reply from the Department of Work and Pensions: “Refers back to the Northern Ireland Executive who has operational responsibility and could set a Universal Credit rate independent of the UK Government.”


Independent Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh said: “It is very important council note this because I had a proposal ruled out of order when it was stated the Executive is not responsible for Social Security policy in Northern Ireland, and yet we have a document which states precisely the truth. The Northern Ireland Executive is responsible and is able to set the Universal Credit rate independent of the UK Government. That was exactly the point I made and I was ruled out of order on the basis of misinformation.”

Councillor Emmet McAleer, Independent, described the position as: “very disappointing” and enquired if Councillor O’Cofaigh could re-propose his previous suggestion.

“Looking at the letter I’m not sure why the proposal was ruled out of order. Obviously there was a different understanding at the time,” he said.

Councillor McAleer also took exception to a section within the letter which stated the government’s priority throughout has been to protect peoples lives and livelihoods.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“I think the fact we are learning while NHS staff were having to bring their own PPE to work, Boris Johnston and his like were organising bring your own booze parties. It’s just absolutely scandalous.

“Nobody believes a word these people say. The government has consistently said the best way to support peoples living wages is through good work, better skills and higher wages yet they refuse to pay an increase for NHS staff.


“It’s beyond ridiculous that these people expect us to take them with any hint of seriousness. They’re living in a fantasy land when it comes to the reality faced by many peoples across this district.”

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