Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Venue: Room 30

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

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meetings 23 and 25 October 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the meetings held on 23 and 25 October 2012 were agreed

Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 10.06am.

Mr Mark H Durkan and Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 10.07am

3. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

3.1 Licensing and Registration of   Clubs (Amendment) (2011 Act) (Commencement No.4) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

The Committee noted the above named Commencement Order

3.2 The Licensing (Irresponsible Drinks Promotions) Regulations Northern Ireland 2012

The Committee considered the above named proposed subordinate legislation and was content for the Rule to be made.

Mr Mark H Durkan declared an interest as family members are employed in the Licensing Trade.

3.3 The Registration of Clubs (Irresponsible Drinks Promotions) Regulations Northern Ireland 2012

The Committee considered the above named proposed subordinate legislation and was content for the Rule to be made.

4. Correspondence

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

5. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by the Citizens Advice

The following representatives from the Citizens Advice joined the meeting at 10.10am

Mr Pól Callaghan; Head of Policy
Ms Rose Henderson; and
Ms Louisa McKee.

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; whether medical evidence should take primacy at the initial stage of a reassessment; if any discussions have taken place with the Department in respect of additional funding for the advice sector in order to help cope with the additional resources that might be required; the impact on families if someone is released from prison for benefit fraud and cannot claim benefits for another year due to a higher sanction; and if there is any evidence to show that the recoverability of hardship payments is likely to deter the entry of people into work.

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

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 12.13pm

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting 12.17pm.

Mr Michael Copeland and Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 12.19pm

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.19pm.

The Committee reconvened at 13.02pm.

6. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by Housing Organisations

The following representatives joined the meeting at 13.04pm:

Dr Jennie Donald, Chartered Institute of Housing;
Ms Ricky Rowledge, Council for the Homeless;
Mr Cameron Watt, NI Federation of Housing Associations; and
Ms Nicola McCrudden, Housing Rights Service

The representatives briefed the Committee on the housing related elements of the     Welfare Reform Bill.    

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 13.09pm

A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including; whether under-occupancy requirements should not be applied until there is sufficient housing stock available to address the need; concerns that the timetable for implementing regulations has not been published; the impact on homeless people who may not have access to IT and the difficulties people face setting up a bank account when they are in temporary accommodation; and the need for a public information      campaign and the provision of  scenarios to help make people aware of the changes ahead.

The Committee considered a number of recommendations from the housing organisations and agreed to consider these going forward.

Mr Mark H Durkan left the meeting at 13.57pm

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 14.03pm

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting at 14.09pm

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 14.10pm

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 14.10pm.

The Committee reconvened at 14.16pm.

7. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by Disability Action and Mencap

The following representatives joined the meeting at 14.16pm:

Ms Karen Hall, Information and Policy Manager, Disability Action;
Ms Norah Marquess, Disability Action; and
Ms Jenny Ruddy, Campaigns Officer, Mencap.

The representatives briefed the Committee on the impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on disabled people and people with learning difficulties.

Mr Michael Copeland and Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 14.20pm

Mr Mark H Durkan re-joined the meeting at 14.26pm

A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including; whether medical evidence should take primacy at the initial stage of a reassessment; the need for decision makers to be fully skilled and trained in disability and mental health issues; concerns regarding the output related funding model for contractors; the impact on the Department for Employment and Learning when thousands of claimants will migrate to Work Related Activity Groups; concerns that housing with adaptations for disabled people are not protected whereas supported housing is protected; and concerns that people with disabilities may have to move into shared accommodation.       

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting 15.02pm

Mr Michael Copeland and Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 15.02pm

8. Welfare Reform Bill – Briefing by the NI Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM)

The following representatives joined the meeting at 15.03pm:

Mr Patrick Yu, Director NICEM;
Ms Karen McLaughlin, Lead Policy Officer NICEM; and
Ms Jolena Flett, Manager Belfast Migrant Centre.

The representatives briefed the Committee on the impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on black and minority ethnic communities.

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 15.07pm

Mr Mark H Durkan left the meeting at 15.15pm

A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including; whether NICEM has raised any concerns with the Department regarding the Bill in relation to United Nations conventions, Council for Europe and EU Laws; concerns that the online application process and the requirement to have a bank account could potentially lead to migrants living in destitution due to the difficulties faced by non-British/Irish Citizens when trying to open a bank account upon arrival in the country; the potential indirect and direct discrimination as a result of the application process being online; and whether special provision for victims of domestic violence should be extended to hate crime.

This session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance.

The representatives left the meeting 15.41pm

9. Any Other Business

The Committee discussed holding an event after the Committee Stage of the Bill.

Mr Fra McCann left the meeting at 15.43pm

10. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10:00am on Tuesday 6 November 2012 in Room 144 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 15.45pm.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
8 November 2012

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