ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 18 April 2013

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 10.10am.

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 21 March 2013

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting held on 21 March 2013 were agreed.

3. Chairperson's Business

The Chairperson advised Members that there would be training provided by Daniel Greenberg following the Committee meeting.
The Chairperson informed Members that a date had been confirmed for an informal meeting with representatives from RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind – 2 May, following the Committee meeting.
The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee had agreed to hold a series of Committee meetings in each of the Members' constituencies and that the first of these would take place in East Londonderry on 20 June.

The Committee asked that locally relevant departmental briefings and site visits be included to add value to these meetings and the Chair confirmed that an afternoon visit programme would be put in place on 20 June and that there would be relevant themes underpinning these external meetings.

4. Flexible Payments under Universal Credit – Briefing by the Social Security Agency (SSA)

The following officials from the SSA joined the meeting at 10.15am:

• Mr Tommy O'Reilly, Chief Executive, SSA; and
• Dr Colin Sullivan, Director of Universal Credit, SSA

The officials briefed the Committee on the proposed new arrangements for Flexible Payments under Universal Credit in Northern Ireland. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.23

The Committee sought clarity on the reason for the use of particular figures within case studies and felt that it would be pertinent for the SSA to provide case studies that provide comparative figures for benefits before and after the introduction of Universal Credit.

The Committee enquired as to whether the IT system underpinning the introduction of Flexible Payments would be fit for purpose in time, and was advised that the Northern Ireland IT system had to integrate with the UK wide system and that it should be ready in time.

The Committee noted the need to continuously evaluate benefit amounts to ensure that claimants were being assessed on average pay and that overtime and money made by the self-employed was not being overlooked.

The Committee asked the SSA to provide further information on whether the upcoming changes have any implications for money paid by parents without care or money paid to parents with care under child maintenance arrangements – specifically whether money received by a parent with caring responsibilities for a child from the other parent would be treated as 'income'.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance at the meeting.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The officials left the meeting at 10.51am.

Ms Judith Cochrane left the meeting at 10.52am.

5. Welfare Reform Amendments

The Bill Clerk explained the proposed amendments to clauses 33 and 91 of the legislation.

The Chairperson advised that if the Bill was rescheduled for 30 April that the Committee might have to convene an early meeting on 25 April to ensure that amendments to the Bill can be tabled with the Bill Office by 9.30am. The Clerk advised that a potential alternative, if this proved problematic for Members, that a short meeting could potentially be scheduled for another day next week to discuss the amendments.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to revisit the proposed amendments at its meeting on 25 April.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

6. Statutory Rules

6.1 The Committee noted SR 83/2013 The Pensions (2012 Act) (Commencement No. 3) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013.

6.2 The Committee considered the following Statutory Rule:

SR 79/2013 The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Satutory Rule 79/2013 The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

6.3 The Committee considered the following Statutory Rule:

SR 86/2013 The Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR 86/2013 The Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

6.4 The Committee considered the following Statutory Rule:

SR 95/2013 The Pension Protection Fund and Occupational Pension Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR 95/2013 The Pension Protection Fund and Occupational Pension Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report, has no objections to the Rule.

7. Correspondence

7.1 The Committee noted an update received from the Minister on the progress with the implementation of the Delivering Social Change Signature Project to establish nurture units.

7.2 The Committee noted correspondence from the SSA advising of the publication of more booklets relating to Welfare Reform, on the Department's website and in the Assembly Library.

7.3 The Committee noted a response from the Department regarding an amendment to the Licensing Legislation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider this issue again during the passage of any future liquor licensing Bill.

7.4 The Committee noted a response from the Department to its request regarding the Social Investment Package Initiative, particularly in relation to Child Poverty.

7.5 The Committee noted a response from the Department to its request regarding the lack of engagement since the Minister's announcement not to proceed in September 2012 with the proposed new arrangements for the delivery of volunteering infrastructure support.

7.6 The Committee noted that the 2013 Supporting People strategy had been forwarded by the Department and that the consultation period for the document ends on 24 May 2013.

Agreed: The Committee Agreed to schedule a briefing with the Department once the report has been finalised.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee was content with the proposed Forward Work Programme.

9. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

10. Date, time and place of next meeting.

The next meeting will take place at 10.00am on Thursday 25 April 2013 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.05am.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development
25 April 2013

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