Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy says DUP Assembly block may prevent NI households getting Sunak cash

The DUP's block on restoring fully-functional devolved institutions in Northern Ireland may prevent households from receiving cost-of-living payments support, Finance Minister Conor Murphy has claimed.

The Sinn Fein MLA said that he would work with the Treasury to ensure the money was made available, but that the current impasse at Stormont complicates its release.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a range of measures to help people with the cost-of-living crisis, including payments of £650 to those receiving state benefits

The Chancellor had earlier indicated that he intended for households in NI to receive the payments and would legislate in order to get the support to every region in the UK.

However Mr Murphy told UTV News that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke had "recognised" that the lack of an Executive "creates problems" with NI receiving and allocating the payment.

The minister said he would work with the Treasury to find a solution, but that "the quickest and simplest solution" would be a resumption of government at Stormont.

Mr Murphy said that the issues preventing the Executive from spending £400million of earlier Treasury funds were similar to the issues that could disrupt the cost-of-living support.

He said that he had received legal advice that he was unable to move to allocate more money without a First and Deputy First Minister.

It is the position of Sinn Féin and the other Executive parties that new funds cannot be allocated in the absence of a full Executive. The DUP deny this and say that the other parties are playing politics with the issue. UTV News has reached out to the DUP for a response to the Finance Minister's comment.

Mr Murphy has said that while the government intervention was welcome, it was disappointing there was no assistance for business in the package of measures.

Northern Ireland will receive around £14m in Barnett consequential for 2022-23 as a result of the increase to the Household Support Fund announced. Minister Murphy concluded: “The additional £14m we will receive from the Household Support Fund cannot be allocated in the absence of an Executive.

"This now means there is a total of £435m which cannot be allocated to help families, workers and businesses with the cost of living and to support public services, particularly our health service.” The DUP has been asked for a comment.

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