Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Troubles compensation 'affects benefits'

Bus destroyed during 7/7 attacks in London
Image caption Some London bomb compensation payments came from a charitable fund, not a government scheme.

Compensation paid to victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland cannot be disregarded when calculating people's income related benefits.

The Department for Social Development said this is because it does not come from a charitable source.

The regulations for the new Universal Credit system due to be introduced in NI next year include a special exemption for compensation paid to victims of the 2005 London bombings.

But the Social Development department said NI Troubles-related compensation cannot be treated in the same way because the money does not come from a charitable source.

In a written answer, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland explained that payments made to the victims of the 2005 London bombings are disregarded for the purposes of current income-related benefits and this will continue under the new Universal Credit system.

Mr McCausland said the payments are disregarded as they are from a charitable source.

Payments to victims of the Troubles, the minister explains, are made by the local Victims and Survivors Service.

The service is currently set up as a company and payments made from it cannot be disregarded for income-related benefit purposes as they are not from a charitable source.

The issue was originally raised by Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland in November last year.

The minister's statement came in response to an assembly question from the Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle.

More than £11m has been paid out to more than 600 victims of the London bombings from the government's Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, but this is government money, not charitable funding.

It is understood the exemption in the welfare regulations may refer to payments from a separate charitable fund administered by the Red Cross.

The London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund raised more than £8m which was distributed to the victims of the bombings and their families.