In response to an Assembly Question from North Down MLA Alex Easton, Finance Minister Arlene Foster has confirmed that the Northern Ireland Executive has lost a total of £114 million during the 2015/16 financial year as a result of welfare reform penalties.

Mr Easton said the figure represented a vast range of public services denied to the public because of the refusal to move forward on welfare reform. He said,

‘The £114million represents the amount we have lost during this financial year, but most importantly that money has been lost to vital front-line public services such as Health Waiting lists, and also fixing the pot holes and getting the grass cut.

In recent weeks there was a great deal of focus on DUP Ministers. However, if we do not make progress within the current talks on implementing the Stormont House Agreement then there will be no local Ministers at all to take decisions.

Devolution should be about helping the people of Northern Ireland, but welfare reform has meant Stormont has had to operate with one hand tied behind its back. We must not forget the significance of resolving the welfare reform issue and the positive impact that a resolution can have for every person in our Province.’