ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 16 June 2011

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began at 10.02am in open session.

1. Ministerial Briefing – Department’s Work Priorities

The Minister and the following senior officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 10.02am:

Mr Will Haire – Permanent Secretary; and

Mr Tommy O’Reilly – Chief Executive, Social Security Agency.

The Minister provided a briefing on the key work priorities of the Department. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 10.29am

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and senior officials for the useful and informative briefing.

The officials left the meeting 10.45am.

A Member expressed concern that the draft press release on the Ministerial briefing did not fully reflect the wide range of issues which were raised with the Minister.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the draft press release would include a reference to the Hansard transcript of the session. The Committee agreed it was content for the press release to be issued.

2. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson briefed the Committee on a recent meeting that he held with senior officials from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division of DSD on Wednesday 15 June 2011

4. Draft Minutes of Meeting 9 June 2011

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 9 June 2011 were agreed.

5. NIHE Review – Departmental Briefing

The following senior officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 10.52am:

Mr Jim Wilkinson – Director of Housing;
Mr Michael Sands – Deputy Director of Housing; and
Ms Patricia McIntyre – NIHE Review Team.

The officials provided a briefing on the Review of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). This was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 10.55am

Mr Gregory Campbell rejoined the meeting at 11.06am

Mr Fra McCann left the meeting at 11.06am

Mr Sammy Douglas left the meeting at 11.10am

Some Members acknowledged the excellent level of service that had been provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive over the last 40 years.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request that representatives from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), the authors of a forthcoming independent Report on the Review of the Housing Executive, are made available to brief the Committee as soon as the Report is finalised. The Committee also agreed to consider the outcome of the consultation on the Report’s recommendations and the Minister’s proposed way forward after summer recess.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should draft a Committee press release on the Committee consideration of the Housing Executive Review to date. The press release would be issued to coincide with the publication of the independent Report by PWC.

The officials left the meeting at 11.11am.

Mr Fra McCann rejoined the meeting at 11.12am

6. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

6.1 The Committee considered the proposed Statutory Rule: Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 – Proposals for Interim Manager Regulations.

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the Department to make the Statutory Rule.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek clarification on the timing for introduction of the Charities (Amendment) Bill to the Assembly.

6.2 The Committee considered the proposed Statutory Rule: The Occupational Pension Schemes (Contracting-Out) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the Department to make the Statutory Rule.

6.3 The Committee considered the proposed Statutory Rule: The Social Security (Electronic Communications) Order (NI) 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the Department to make the Statutory Rule.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would forward a copy of the proposed Statutory Rule to the Committee for Employment and Learning for its consideration.

6.4 Committee considered the proposed Statutory Rule: The Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Prescribed Diseases) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the Department to make the Statutory Rule.

6.5 Committee considered the proposed Statutory Rule: The Child Support and Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the Department to make the Statutory Rule.

7. Statutory Rules

7.1 SR 2011 No.214: The Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

Question put and agreed:

“The Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule: SR 2011 No. 214 : Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ report has no objection to the Rule.”

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would write to the Department to seek details on the range of registered rents in Northern Ireland.

8. Housing Selection Scheme – Preliminary Consultation – Departmental Briefing

The following senior officials from the Department for Social Development and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive joined the meeting at 11.20am:

Mr Stephen Martin- Head of Housing Bill Team, DSD;

Mr Gerry Flynn- Assistant Director, Housing and Regeneration, NIHE.

Mr Maurice Rooney – Principal Officer, Housing and Regeneration, NIHE.

The officials provided a briefing on the preliminary consultation on the NIHE Housing Selection Scheme. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr David McClarty rejoined the meeting at 11.24am

Mr Sammy Douglas rejoined the meeting at 11.37am

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 11.47am

Members welcomed the review of the Housing Selection Scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would write to the Department to request information on the number of cases that were awarded ‘Full Duty Applicant Status’ due to intimidation in 2010/11 and details on the proportion of these and of 2009/10, that were awarded as a result of anti-social behaviour. The Committee also agreed to seek clarification on how the criteria for intimidation has been widened in recent times.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting 12.05pm.

Ms Judith Cochrane left the meeting at 12.05pm

9. Legislative Consent Motion – Committee Report

Agreed: Members agreed the contents of the Committee’s draft Report on its consideration of the Legislative Consent Motion: Westminster Welfare Reform Bill.

10. Correspondence

10.1 The Committee considered correspondence from Age NI, the Belfast Butterfly Club and the Rural Community Network requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the above organisations to an informal Committee stakeholder event to be held after the summer recess.

10.2 The Committee noted the Chairperson’s intention to arrange a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland in response to a request.

10.3 The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Employment and Learning to consider setting up an inter-committee working group to review the Not in Education, Employment or Training and Early Years Strategies.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to postpone its consideration on this matter pending clarification from the Clerk on the process involved in setting up such a group.

10.4 The Committee noted the following annual reports:

The Social Security Agency Social Fund Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2007 and 31 March 2008 and;

The Social Security Agency Report on Decision Making and Case Accuracy for the year ended 31 December 2009.

11. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the revised Forward Work Programme.

12. Any Other Business

None

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 23 June 2011 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings at 10.00am.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.10pm.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
23 June 2011

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