Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has called for the planned introduction of the controversial Universal Credit system to be postponed.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “Tory plans to introduce the Universal Credit system have created considerable concern - particularly around the processing of payments.
“The unacceptable delay of, on average, up to six weeks in administering the first payment has the potential to cause severe hardship during the most financially challenging months of the year.
“The Universal Credit advance, if granted, will not meet the costs of winter fuel, Christmas, housing and rising living costs.
“This delay in payment could drive people further into poverty, lead to evictions/arrears and debt.
“Our seven Sinn Féin MPs have jointly written to Tory minister David Guake at the Department of Work and Pensions calling for the introduction of Universal Credit to be postponed, that the delay in administration of the first payment is reduced urgently, and that the payment process is more widely processed.
“The Universal Credit system is not fit for purpose and I am urging the department to take time to resolve the well documented difficulties experienced by many claimants in Britain.”