Press Release

Committee Hears Grassroots Concerns on Social Development

Session: 2009/2010

Date: Thursday, 05 November 2009

Reference: SD 06/09/10

Charities and representative groups from across Northern Ireland got the chance to raise their concerns directly today at an event hosted by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Social Development. The event focused on topics such as fuel poverty, suitable accommodation, disability access and benefit payments.

Simon Hamilton, Chairperson of the Committee, explained the reason for the event: “The Social Development Committee has responsibility for a wide range of issues including housing, social security and pensions. With such a considerable legislative workload this year, there are fewer opportunities to hear from groups and individuals affected by these issues.

“The Committee is keen to reach out, hear people’s views and discuss the issues. This event is the third in a series and is extremely useful getting people and the Committee together. Today’s event has been invaluable in informing the work of the Committee. It can also potentially shape the future work programme of the Committee.

He continued: “It is essential that Assembly Committees are open and accessible. Today’s meeting is key example of how the Assembly’s engagement strategy works and is designed to help connect people with politicians and the democratic process.”

Notes to Editors:

Each of the groups at the event provided a summary of their issues and concerns and will be followed-up by the Committee. 

The important issues raised by groups included:

Age Concern Help the Aged NI           

  • the introduction of social tariffs and the automatic payment of benefits.

Chartered Institute of Housing              

  • the challenge of meeting the accommodation needs of Northern Ireland’s Traveller Community.

Disability Action                                  

  • the provision of specialist advice services and disability access in public realm schemes and social housing.

Helm Housing                                      

  • addressing fuel poverty and tackling anti-social behaviour in social housing.

National Energy Action            

  • the Affordable Warmth Campaign.

Community Relations Council               

  • mixed housing and the regeneration of shared spaces.

NI Human Rights Commission             

  • the proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.


  • social housing funding issues and the Social Security Agency’s Customer First initiative.

Save the Children                                

  • the policy challenge from recent child poverty statistics.

The Committee for Social Development membership;

Mr. Simon Hamilton MLA (Chairperson)
Mr. David Hilditch MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr. Billy Armstrong MLA
Mrs. Mary Bradley MLA
Mr. Mickey Brady MLA
Mr. Thomas Burns MLA
Mr. Jonathan Craig MLA 
Mr. Alex Easton MLA
Ms. Anna Lo MLA
Mr. Fra McCann
Ms. Carál Ní Chuilín MLA

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