Welfare Reform (NI) Order 2015 now in force
The Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 came into force yesterday. Find it here: SI.No.2006/2015
The Order introduces the primary rules for the new benefits Universal Credit and PIP which will be further set out in Regulations in the near future.
Other provisions include a 365 day limit on Contributory ESA, or 'if the Department by order specifies a greater number of days, that number of days' (Article 57). Worth keeping an eye out for as this was one of the first measures to come into force in GB.
The Order confers powers on the Department for Social Development to make regulations for welfare reform but transitory provision in the Order allows the Secretary of State to exercise most of these powers in the first instance to secure the introduction of the reforms. These powers may be transferred back to Stormont at a later date.
As per Stormont's Fresh Start Agreement, the Order differs from GB's Welfare Reform Act 2012 to allow for limited mitigations in top-up payments and sanctions. DSD retains the powers to make provision for discretionary financial assistance.