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Urgent need for new mitigations package

04 Nov 2019

Urgent need for new mitigations package: new report reveals tax and social security reforms hit low income families and people with disabilities the hardest

A new report into tax and social security reforms published by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has provided evidence of the overall impact of tax and welfare reform in Northern Ireland for the first time.

The research, which looks at the impact of tax and social security reforms introduced in Northern Ireland since 2010 through to everything planned until 2022. It also analyses the value of the mitigations package agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive, due to end on 31 March 2020.

The report’s authors (Landman Economics and Aubergine Analysis) set out the impact of reforms on different income groups by household composition, including lone parents and other families – by age, gender and disability. It finds that the biggest annual average losses are in some of the poorest households. The impacts are especially dramatic for lone parents, who have lost around £2,250 on average per year, and households with at least one disabled child, who experience average losses of around £2,000 per year.

The report also finds that households with three or more children experience overall average losses of around £2,575 per year – in comparison to average losses of £50 for households with one child. Women are more badly affected than men because they are more likely to be receiving tax credits and other social security benefits than men.

Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, stated:

The research demonstrates that those with the broadest backs are not bearing the heaviest load. We need a tax and social security system which provides help where it is most needed – for those on low incomes. The freezing of many social security benefits for four years, and continuing Universal Credit to two children only, has had a devastating impact on claimants and their children. Adult and child poverty is set to rise.

“The research shows that the mitigations package, including not applying the bedroom tax and benefit cap for families, has made a significant impact. If the mitigations are not replaced, we will plunge those households into a crisis from next April. The right to an adequate standard of living is an important human right and that is not being met. The research provides a recommended package for renewed mitigations which is costed and evidence-based, and builds on what we have now.”

The report makes a series of recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government, and lists recommendations concerning changes to Northern Ireland survey data.

Read the full report here.

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