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Sinn Fein Plea Not To Bring In 'Bedroom Tax' Amid Stormont Crisis

Sinn Fein has called on the Government not to implement the so-called "bedroom tax" in Northern Ireland after the crisis at Stormont threatened planned mitigation pay outs.

Senior party figure Conor Murphy said no parties in the region wanted to see social housing residents lose out due to the policy of reducing benefits to those deemed to have spare rooms.

His remarks came after a Stormont department confirmed that locally-devised support payments to around 34,000 householders could not be rolled out without the official endorsement of the trouble-hit Executive.

Otherwise known as the Social Sector Size Criteria, the Government welfare reform on housing benefit will be introduced in Northern Ireland next month.

Extra money provided by Stormont to make up for cuts to the overall welfare budget at Westminster was a key plank in an earlier agreement to save power-sharing. It had been a central Sinn Fein demand.

But the looming implosion of the institutions following Martin McGuinness's resignation as deputy first minister means the Executive is currently unable to meet to sign off the payments.

Mr Murphy said on Wednesday: "The reality is we are opposed to the bedroom tax, we don't want to see the bedroom tax introduced here.

"All of the parties in this institutions are opposed to the bedroom tax.

"It is the British government who are legislating for bedroom tax and we told them specifically today that they have no need to legislate for bedroom tax for the north."

Steps to protect Northern Ireland benefit recipients from London-driven welfare reforms were championed by Sinn Fein and negotiated as part of the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire rejected the suggestion that the Government would adjust its UK-wide welfare reforms in Northern Ireland.

"It is a UK-wide position on the spare room subsidy," he said.

He added: "Clearly it is for the devolved administration here to determine if they wish to make a change from UK-wide policy."