As Northern Ireland entered the pandemic, nearly one-in-five people in Northern Ireland lived in poverty, including over 100,000 children. With 1 in 14 households in food insecurity, the recent spike in energy prices, and wider inflation, as well as certain areas of Northern Ireland and groups such as people in workless families, disabled people, carers and people in ethnic minority households having much higher poverty rates, people across Northern Ireland need the next Executive to go further and focus on:
1. The adequacy of the social security system, in particular:
- Consider whether to reverse, or at least partly mitigate, the impact of the £20-per-week cut to the basic rates of Universal Credit.
- More effectively match benefit up-rating to the cost of living; failing to do so will push 10,000 more families in Northern Ireland into poverty.
- A targeted payment such as the Scottish Child Payment could reduce child poverty.
- Consider the role that DLA/PIP can have in helping disabled people into the labour market, including considering how the administration of the payments could be redesigned with dignity and poverty reduction at their heart.
2. Investment in the housing market:
- Building more energy efficient social housing to shorten waiting lists and provide affordable, good quality, warm and secure homes for more people.
- Continuing the drive to regulate the private rented sector more effectively, with a particular focus on security of tenure.
3. Take action to provide targeted employability support to people struggling most to secure well-paid jobs, not least disabled people and single parents.
4. Work with employers and the education and skills system to ensure that people are able to secure the skills that they need for the jobs of the future, not least the significant potential for jobs in transition to a low-carbon economy.