Welfare expenditure accounts for one-sixth of all public spending. The introduction of a UK welfare cap was overwhelmingly approved by 520 Members of this House, although I accept not by the hon. Gentleman. The cap ensures that social security expenditure remains fair to claimants and yet affordable to taxpayers in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
On welfare spending in Northern Ireland, what assurance can the Minister give that the operation of the cap will not entail a cap within a cap in ways that mean future benefit take-up campaigns will, for the first time, be at the expense of other benefits, which has never been the case in the past?
The hon. Gentleman is perhaps confusing the welfare cap with the benefit cap. It is important to note that the previous Minister in the Department for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, said that universal credit will lift 10,000 children out of poverty, and that most people in Northern Ireland will benefit from the change in the welfare rules. This has a substantial capacity to improve the lives of those who are reliant on welfare in Northern Ireland.