Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 27 September 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:03am.

At 10.04am Mr Michael Copeland declared an interest as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee.                                            

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 20 September 2012         

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 20 September 2012 were agreed.

Ms Judith Cochrane MLA joined the meeting at 10.05am

Mr Mark H Durkan MLA joined the meeting at 10.06am

3. Chairperson’s Business

3.1 The Chairperson advised Members that the Welfare Reform Bill was agreed at the Executive meeting on 20 September. 

The Chairperson provided an overview of a meeting he had with the Minister and Departmental officials to discuss the Welfare Reform Bill and highlighted the Department’s proposed timeline for the Committee stage.  Member’s views were sought on the proposed timetable.

The Chairperson suggested that Members make provisional arrangements to enable them to attend additional meetings to consider this Bill and sought Members views on working through the Halloween recess period.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to begin its call for evidence immediately after the Bill is introduced in the Assembly.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to re-visit the Forward Work Programme and reschedule any non-essential items of business to accommodate this Bill. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to additional Committee meetings from 10 October for a period of approximately 6 weeks.

4. October Monitoring Round – Departmental Briefing

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 10:28am:

Ms Heather Cousins, DSD; and

Mr Stephen McMurray, DSD.

The officials briefed the Committee on the October Monitoring Round; follow up questions from the June Monitoring Round; and Qualifications of accounts by the NI Audit Office.  

Mr Michael Copeland MLA left the meeting at 10.37am

Ms Judith Cochrane MLA left the meeting at 10.37am

Ms Judith Cochrane MLA re-joined the meeting at 10.44am

Mr Michael Copeland MLA re-joined the meeting 10.46am

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.           

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek clarification in relation to benefit expenditure and in particular what proportion of overpayments was due to error and how much was attributed to fraud?

The officials left the meeting at 10:55am.

5. Matters Arising

5.1 The Chairperson expressed concern about the Department’s work in addressing the recommendations set out in the Social Development Committee’s Fuel Poverty report.  The Chairperson called on the Department to increase its effort to ensure that the Committee’s recommendations are realised.

5.2 The Chairperson referred to recent media reports regarding the closure of small         businesses in towns across the province and acknowledged the importance they are to the economy.  The Chairperson asked that it be noted that the Committee will          return to this issue.

The Chair, Mr Alex Maskey MLA left the meeting at 10.59am

Mr Mickey Brady MLA took over as Deputy Chairperson at 10.59am

6. Fuel Poverty – Departmental Briefing

The deputy Chairperson welcomed the following Departmental officials at 10:59am:

Ms Eilish O’Neill, DSD;

Ms Deidre Ward, DSD; and

The officials briefed the Committee on fuel poverty.

Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 11.08am

Following the briefing the Committee held a detailed discussion with the officials on a number of issues including the Warm Homes Scheme, a pilot scheme for an area based approach to achieving affordable warmth, the boiler replacement scheme and pay as you           go oil.  Members also discussed the current position with the recommendations in the Committee’s report on fuel poverty.

Mr Alex Easton MLA left the meeting at 11.23am

Mr Alex Easton MLA re-joined the meeting at 11.37am

Mr David McClarty MLA left the meeting at 11.41am

Mr Fra McCann MLA left the meeting at 11.41am

Ms Paula Bradley MLA left the meeting at 11.44am

Ms Judith Cochrane MLA left the meeting at 11.46am

The Deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting at 11:50am.    

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask for the following

  • An update on the replacement of glass fronted fires in Housing Executive properties;
  •    an update on the roll out of meters for use in the boiler replacement scheme;
  •    confirmation of how much of the £4m to be spent by the end of March 2013 on the boiler replacement scheme is work carried out and how much is to be spent on staff costs, admin etc; and
  • copies of the economic appraisals for the Boiler Replacement Scheme and the Green New Deal.

 Mr Michael Copeland MLA left the meeting at 11.51am.

7. Charities Bill – Departmental Briefing

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11:51am:

Mr Roy McGivern, DSD; and

Mr Kieran Doyle, DSD;

The officials briefed the Committee on the Charities Bill.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.           

The Deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting at 11:55am.

8. Correspondence

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for all items of correspondence to be dealt with in accordance with the proposed next steps outlined in the correspondence memo.

A member of the Committee welcomed the Department’s decision to ban “All you can drink” for a fixed price promotions.

9. Forward Work Programme

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

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 Thursday 27 September 2012 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson reminded Members that next week’s meeting is an extended meeting to allow a briefing from the Department on the general principles of the Welfare Reform Bill. 

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.57am.

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

Find Your MLA

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video.

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

Keep up to date with what's happening at the Assembly.

Find out more

Subscribe

Enter your email address to keep up to date

Sign up