ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 17 November 2011

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 09.35am.

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 10 November 2011

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 10 November 2011 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson provided an overview of the previous evening’s fuel poverty event which was hosted by the Social Development Committee.

Ms Pam Lewis arrived at 09.39am

4. Matters Arising

The Chairperson advised Members that the Committee is scheduled to receive a briefing from a representative group of organisations on the proposed changes to the Regional Infrastructure Programme on 1 December 2011.

The Chairperson advised Members’ that the Committee is still awaiting a response to the Committee’s letter to the Minister requesting that the next stages of the implementation of the new Regional Infrastructure Programme are delayed to allow the Committee sufficient time to effectively scrutinise the impact of the proposed changes.

The Chairperson reminded Members to contact the Clerk if they had any views on the proposed phrases to be used on the Committee display stand.

5. Voluntary and Community Unit – Departmental Briefing

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 9.41am:

Ms Maeve Walls Director, Voluntary and Community Unit, DSD;
Mr Michael Donnelly Voluntary and Community Unit, DSD; and
Mr Jack O’Connor Voluntary and Community Unit, DSD.

The officials briefed the Committee on the Voluntary and Community Sector Concordat, the Regional Infrastructure Support Programme, the Provision of Local Generalist Voluntary Sector Advice and the Small Pockets of Deprivation Programme.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 10.02am

Members expressed concern that they didn’t have enough time to effectively scrutinise the impact of the proposed changes to the Regional Infrastructure Programme on those organisations who currently receive funding under the Programme.

Agreed: Members agreed to write to the Department to request a copy of the Consultation Report on the Regional Infrastructure Programme. The Committee also agreed to seek briefings on the NIHE Report on the SPOD Programme and the first progress report on the new Concordat when they are published in March and May 2012 respectively.

Agreed: The Committee also sought details on how the Department’s 25% cut in administration budget would affect the Neighbourhood Renewal and the Special Pockets of Deprivation Programmes.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 10.23am.

6. Correspondence

6.1 The Committee considered correspondence from the NI Turf Guardians Association requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on a number of the proposals contained in DSD’s Strategic Review of Gambling Practice, Policy and Law public consultation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the NI Turf Guardians Association to brief the Committee on the proposed changes to the Gambling Legislation in Northern Ireland.

6.2 The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development highlighting concerns in relation to housing/planning, poverty and service provision in rural communities in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department to seek clarification on what steps it is taking to address housing and poverty issues affecting rural communities as noted in the correspondence.

6.3 The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel concerning the proposed large retail levy and the extension of small business rates relief scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to re-consider this item at the Committee meeting of 24 November 2011. The Committee also agreed to forward a copy of a DSD briefing paper on Business Improvement Districts to the Committee for Finance and Personnel to assist them in their deliberations.

6.4 The Committee noted a press release from the Department in respect of the new Benefits Uptake campaign.

6.5 Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content with the proposed way forward for the remaining items of correspondence sent to the Committee as outlined in the Clerk’s briefing note.

Mr Alex Easton left the meeting at 10.30am
Ms Pam Lewis left the meeting at 10.30am
Mr Sammy Douglas left the meeting at 10.30am

7. Street Trading Legislation – Departmental Briefing

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 10.30am:

Mr Liam Quinn Social Policy Unit, DSD; and
Ms Caroline Hobson Social Policy Unit, DSD.

The officials briefed the Committee on the need to change existing NI Street Trading Legislation to ensure compliance with EC legislation and the steps being taken to achieve this compliance.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 10.35am.

8. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the draft Forward Work Programme.

9. Any Other Business

None

10. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 24 November 2011 at the Social Security Agency, Kennedy Centre, Andersonstown, Belfast.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 10.37am

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