ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 25 October 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 10:05am.

Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 10.07am

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meetings 16, 17 and 18 October 2012

Agreed:  The minutes of the meetings held on 16, 17 and 18 October 2012 were agreed

Mr Mark H Durkan joined the meeting at 10.08am

3. Matters Arising

3.1 The Chairperson drew Members attention to responses received from the Department regarding issues raised by the Committee during the Department’s initial briefing on the Clauses of the Welfare Reform Bill.

3.2  The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister informing the Committee that he has written to the Executive seeking approval to explore his proposals for new housing structures in respect of the fundamental review of the Housing Executive.  The          Committee also considered correspondence from the Minister informing the Committee that Academics will shortly begin an independent assessment of the current Housing Selection Scheme.        

Mr Gregory Campbell joined the meeting at 10.10am

4. Statutory Rules

4.1 The Committee considered Statutory Rule SR377/2012 The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR377/2012The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

4.2  The Committee considered Statutory Rule SR380/2012 The Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR380/2012 The Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

4.3 The Committee noted correspondence from the Department advising the Committee that it proposes to ask the Secretary of State to make a Statutory Rule under powers   conferred by the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 and the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. 

5. Correspondence

The Chairperson drew Members attention to a number of items of correspondence from the Department regarding Gambling Laws and delivery arrangements for regional infrastructure support.  The Chairperson also drew Members attention to the Committee for Education’s response to Mapping Poverty and Social Deprivation.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for all items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the Correspondence Memo.

Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 10.13am

6. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by WAVE Trauma Centre

The following representatives from WAVE joined the meeting at 10.14am

Ms Annette Creelman;

Ms Amanda Deans;

Mr Stuart Magee; and

Ms Philomena McCaughey.

Mr Michael Copeland joined the meeting at 10.30am

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 10.32am

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 10.32am

The representatives briefed the Committee on the potential impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on victims/survivors of the conflict here.  This was followed by a question and answer session which covered a number of issues in relation to the Bill including: the impact on claimants of the time limit placed on receipt of contribution-based Employment Support Allowance; the primacy of medical records in the decision-making process; and the criteria for PIP and the assessments being carried out on claimants. 

The Committee considered a number of proposed recommendations from WAVE 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 at 11.02am      

7. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)

The following officials from the NIHE joined the meeting at 11.03am

Mr Gerry Flynn, Director of Housing & Regeneration;

Ms Dolores Ferran, Assistant Director of Housing & Regeneration;

Ms Fiona Neilan, Assistant Principal Officer Housing & Regeneration Department; and

Mr Pat Durkin, NIHE. 

The officials briefed the Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill.  A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including; the impact on the Housing Executive tenants due to the under-occupancy rule; the potential changes that could arise as a result of PIP which may influence overall personal/family finance in relation to households; and the sanctions being introduced for giving false information.

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 11.06am

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11.24am

The Department agreed to respond the Committee on the following issues;

  • clarification on the rules governing the issuing of the discretionary payment for assistance with rent;
  • data on the number of NIHE homes that are over occupied;
  • information on the number of new builds targeted at singles;
  • a breakdown into categories (singles, couples etc) of those in housing stress;
  • a breakdown of the 26,000 figure into those working (but in receipt of housing benefit) and those not working (and in receipt of benefit).

 Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 11.46am

Ms Pam Brown re-joined the meeting at 11.31am

This session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Sammy Douglas left the meeting at 11.55am

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11.57am

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting 12.08pm

Mr Gregory Campbell, Mr Michael Copeland, Ms Pam Brown and Ms Judith Cochrane left the meeting at 12.08am

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.08pm

The meeting reconvened at 13.06pm

8. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY)

The following representatives from NICCY joined the meeting at 13.07am

Ms Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, Commissioner

Ms Colette McIlvanna, Senior Legal and Casework Officer at NICCY

Dr Goretti Horgan, University of Ulster

Ms Judith Cochrane re-joined the meeting at 13.10pm

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 13.11pm

The representatives briefed the Committee on the potential impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on children and young people.  This was followed by a question and answer session which covered a number of issues in relation to the Bill including; the conditionality and sanctions; the proposed mechanisms to pay benefits to the recipients; the benefit cap; the lack of a childcare strategy in NI; and changes to the housing benefit. 

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

This session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 13.56pm

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting at 13.57pm

9. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by NI Association for Mental Health (NIAMH)

The following representative from NIAMH joined the meeting at 13.58pm

Ms Iris Elliott, Head of Public Affairs and Policy

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 14.04pm

Ms Elliot briefed the Committee on the potential impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on people suffering from mental health illness.  This was followed by a question and answer session which covered a number of issues in relation to the Bill including: how the anxiety of Welfare Reform is causing people to withdraw from activities that support their recovery, human rights review of the Bill, the ‘digital by default’ approach; and the need for a media campaign using non-stigmatised language.

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 14.11pm

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

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 14.30

Ms Judith Cochrane left the meeting at 14.43am

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Elliott for her attendance.

The representatives left the meeting at 14.48pm

10. Any Other Business

There was no other business

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

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

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 14.49pm.

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

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