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Alongside colleagues in the Community and Voluntary Sector, Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick, a lecturer, and researcher in the School of Law at Ulster University, is organising a major event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont to call on the NI Executive to reform and to put in place emergency policy interventions to help those on the lowest incomes through the winter period.

The event will bring together representatives from a broad spectrum of organisations and experts by experience to discuss important issues across six themes: Housing, Health and Social Care, Energy, Social Security, Working and Poverty and Children and Families. MLAs and Senior Officials have been invited to listen to recent research and evidence that points to a very difficult winter ahead, where thousands are expected to fall into destitution. Experts by experience will discuss their stories and personal fears as they face into significant price rises in essentials such as food and fuel.

Dr Fitzpatrick and co-organisers have mutually agreed on four emergency response measures that can be turned round in a matter of days, using existing legislation. The measures are targeted at those people on the lowest incomes and who are at the biggest risk of falling into destitution. Dr Fitzpatrick has worked alongside Ulster colleagues Professor Victoria Simms and Dr Alexandra Chapman and policy expert Jamie Thunder to cost the four measures and to develop policy briefs detailing how they could be administered.

It is suggested that the four measures should be put in place for a period of six months (October 2022 – March 2023) to support people over the coldest months:

  1. Pause social security debt deductions
  2. Re-instate the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and legacy benefits
  3. A £500 one off payment to those in receipt of disability benefits or Carer’s Allowance
  4. Remove the two-child limit

The event has been co-sponsored by Kellie Armstrong MLA, Claire Sugden MLA and Ciara Ferguson MLA. It will take place at the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings between 10am – 12.30.

All of the tickets for the event have been reserved, but you can register to watch the event online here.

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