READ MY LIPS..No more money for Welfare Bill, says Theresa Villiers

READ MY LIPS..No more money for Welfare Bill, says Theresa Villiers

SECRETARY of State Theresa Villiers has ruled out any more cash to help smooth the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill through the Assembly.

She made her comments after Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said £200m would solve the welfare reform problems.

On Monday, Sinn Fein withdrew its support for the reform bill after accusing the DUP of ‘bad faith’ for reneging on commitments made in the Stormont House Agreement.

The republican party said it had signed up to the Stormont House Agreement on the understanding that welfare claimants would be fully protected under the welfare changes by a fund that would help offset any losses to benefits.

Ms Villiers said a more expensive system in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK would be unfair.

The secretary of state said that if the welfare reform issue was not resolved, it would throw into question the other elements of the Stormont House Agreement, including a planned voluntary exit scheme for the public sector.

Ms Villiers also said a final decision had not been made about whether to press ahead with the bill transferring power over corporation tax to Northern Ireland.

The bill was expected to clear its final stage on St Patrick’s Day.

The DUP also ruled out a fresh splash of public cash as “simply not a runner”.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: “It’s considerably more than £200m and remember all the figures were in the agreement that he [Martin McGuinness] and they signed up to,” he said.

“Everyone else seems to be clear on what the ramifications were of the deal, they seem to have only belatedly discovered the extent of some shortfall.

“Where would we get that money from? What services would have to suffer as a result of trying to find that money. It’s simply not a runner.”


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