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John
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Speaking after the Joint Ministerial Council meeting in the Cabinet Office in London this morning, Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said: “The top item on the agenda of today's meeting of the three devolved governments with the London Government was welfare reform.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011 <

"I again made it clear to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and to Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform Minister, that much of the welfare reform agenda appeared not to recognise the particular circumstances in Northern Ireland, including the high levels of disadvantage and our continuing economic difficulties.<

"The welfare reforms that London thinks may work in the South East of England is not going to work in the North East of Ireland. I again argued that when the Assembly legislates for welfare reform our law and our practice must recognise our circumstances."<

The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and the leaders from the three devolved administrations attended. Alex Attwood continued: "Only last week the British government changed how they will manage one aspect of reform, namely what is known as Incapacity Benefit migration. I had told the London government months ago on that same issue, how Northern Ireland was managing that reform.<

"London has now adopted the argument that I earlier had made. This proves that Belfast can get London to change its mind on its welfare proposals. I am determined to keep making this argument so that reform which is unworkable is derailed, reform that hits the most vulnerable hardest is prevented and that London gives flexibilities to Northern Ireland around welfare, protecting those in need.”<

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