ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 10:09am.

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson advised Members that he spoke at a Knowledge Exchange Seminar event organised by the Assembly’s Research and Information Service.  The seminar was on the implications of Welfare Reform and the options for NI.

The Chairperson advised Members that the meeting was an extended meeting.   

3. Matters Arising

The Chairperson reminded Members that at last Thursday’s meeting the Committee received a briefing on Standing Order 35 and the Committee agreed to return to this issue.  The Chairperson sought the views of the Committee. 

Mr Gregory Campbell joined the meeting at 10.16am

Following discussions it was proposed by Mr McCann that the equality requirements of the Welfare Reform Bill should be referred to an Ad Hoc committee.  This was seconded by Mr Durkan.

The Chairperson read the motion:

“That under Standing Order 35 (2)(b) the Committee recommends that the Welfare Reform Bill be referred to an Ad Hoc Committee on Conformity with Equality Requirements.”

Ayes 4: Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Mickey Brady, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Mark H Durkan

Noes 4: Ms Paula Bradley, Ms Pam Brown, Mr Gregory Campbell, Mr Sammy     Douglas,

1 No vote: Mr Michael Copeland

As the votes were equal the motion fell.

4. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by Advice NI

The following representatives from Advice NI joined the meeting at 10.29am

  • Mr Kevin Higgins;
  • Ms Sinead McKinley; and
  • Ms Jenny McCurry.

The representatives briefed the Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill.  This was followed by a question and answer session which covered a number of issues in relation to the Bill including; Universal Credit, Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment; time limiting the payment of contributory ESA (WRAG group) to 12 months; and lone parents with a youngest child aged 5 and over.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11.00am

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 11.01am

Mr Sammy Douglas left the meeting at 11.15am

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 11.17am

The Committee considered a number of proposed recommendations from Advice NI and agreed to consider these going forward.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting 11.27am

5. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by the Women’s Resource and Development      Agency (WRDA)

The following representatives joined the meeting at 11.28am

Ms Lynn Carvill - WRDA;

Ms Bronagh Hinds – DemocraShe;

Ms Marie Cavanagh – Gingerbread NI; and

Ms Sharon Burnett – Causeway Women’s Aid

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11.28am

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 11.33am

The representatives briefed the Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill.  A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including how Universal Credit could potentially give women less control of the household income if it is to be paid to the main earner in the household – usually the man; how conditionality and sanctions increase the pressure on women juggling work, childcare and domestic responsibilities; and the impact on women regarding the frequency of payments.

The Committee welcomed the recommendations made by the Group and agreed to consider these going forward.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting 12.34pm

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 12.34pm

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 12.34pm

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.35pm

The meeting reconvened at 13.11pm

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 13.11pm

6. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by the Law Centre (NI)

Mr Les Allamby, Director of the Law Centre (NI) joined the meeting 13.11pm

Mr Allamby provided the Committee with a detailed briefing on the clauses of the Bill. This was followed by a question and answer session covering a range of issues including Universal Credit entitlement; restrictions on entitlement; housing costs; work related requirements; and hardship payments.

Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 13.22pm

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 14.09pm

During the detailed discussions, an issue was raised regarding the calculation of awards and how the Bill may restrict certain EU nationals (i.e. work seekers) entitlement to the standard allowance only.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the Clerk to seek legal advice regarding this issue.

The Committee welcomed the recommendations and agreed to consider these going forward.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 14.44pm

The Chairperson thanked Mr Allamby for his attendance.

Mr Allamby left the meeting at 14.45pm

7. Any Other Business

There was no other business

8. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10:00am on Thursday 25 October 2012 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 14.46pm.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
31 October 2012

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