SDLP Mid Ulster Assembly candidate Patsy McGlone has said that there is understandable confusion about the introduction of the bedroom tax on housing benefit payments in Northern Ireland.
The warning came as letters from the Housing Executive explaining how the bedroom tax will be administered were sent to those in receipt of housing benefit.
Mr McGlone said: “A number of constituents have contacted my office worried by the letters from the Housing Executive explaining how the bedroom tax will be administered.
“They have been understandably confused because the parties responsible for this tax had told them that it was not being introduced in the north.
“Those parties had, in fact, voted for the bedroom tax to be introduced in legislation here.
“Only the SDLP and the Green Party sought to prevent this happening by using a petition of concern in the Assembly, but other parties refused to support our position.
“As a result, the bedroom tax is being implemented here. However, until 31 March 2020, there is to be a welfare supplementary payment to cover any cut to Housing Benefit due to the tax. No additional claim is required. The supplementary payment will be automatically paid by the Department for Communities. This should ensure that no-one currently in receipt of Housing Benefit will feel the impact of this new tax for the time being.
“There will be a concern that, in the absence of a functional Executive and the possible re-introduction of Direct Rule, this will remain the case.
“The SDLP will argue strongly in favour of the maintenance of the supplementary payments, and for the removal of the bedroom tax, whatever political arrangements are in place.”