Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 21 September 2011

Venue: Room 29

The meeting opened in public session at 10.01 am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chair’s Business

Members noted that the meeting was being streamed live on the Assembly website.

The Chairperson updated members with details of his attendance at various events and meetings on behalf of the Committee.

10.05 am Mr Chris Lyttle joined the meeting.

The Committee discussed the possibility of participating in a pilot scheme to trial electronic meeting packs.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a briefing from the Assembly Information Service on the issue.

The Committee discussed the Business in the Community, Graduate Acceleration Programme (GAP), event held in the Long Gallery.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ascertain what information is provided to front line Employment Service staff on GAP.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2011

Agreed: The minutes were agreed.

4. Matters arising

The Committee considered a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.

5. Departmental briefing on the on the Review of Education Maintenance Allowance.

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 10.27 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Fergus Devitt, Director of Higher Education Division, Mr John Neill, Head of Student Finance Policy Branch and by Mrs Eve Stewart of the Department of Education on the Review of Education Maintenance Allowance.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for Employment and Learning requesting additional information on Education Maintenance Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a briefing from Include Youth to the Department for comment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister seeking clarification on the budgetary responsibility for Education Maintenance Allowance.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 11.29 am.

6. Departmental briefing on Welfare Reform.

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11.30 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Colum Boyle, Head of Employment Service Branch, and Mr Jim Russell, Head of Employment Service Policy Branch, on the key issues around Welfare Reform.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ascertain the increase in client numbers likely to be experienced by the Employment Service as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit.

12.00 noon Mr Pat Ramsey left the meeting.

12.03 pm Mr Barry McElduff left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request an invitation to attend a suitable forum when information is being provided to staff on major changes, such as Welfare Reform.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Social Development to request that a joint meeting is scheduled to deal with the matter of Welfare Reform.

12.06 pm Mr Pat Ramsey rejoined the meeting.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.07 pm.

12.07 pm Mr Jim Allister left the meeting.

12.07 pm Mr David McIlveen left the meeting.

7. Departmental briefing on the Migration of Incapacity Benefit.

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 12.08 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Colum Boyle, Head of Employment Service Branch, and Mrs Sheila McNeill, Head of IB Migration Branch, on the Incapacity Benefit/Income Support to Employment and Support Allowance Reassessment Initiative.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to identify the current number of front line advisers employed in the Employment Service.

12.22 pm Mr Barry McElduff rejoined the meeting.

12.24 pm Mr Chris Lyttle left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to find out what plans the Department has for new Employment Service clients with more complex needs and specifically for finding employment opportunities for clients with disabilities.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department requesting information on the number of people with a declared disability who have been employed in the Department in the last 3 years.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a briefing paper on increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.33 pm.

8. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • A letter from the Engineering Professors Council expressing concern about the funding of engineering at Northern Ireland’s two universities.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • A letter from Volunteer Now requesting to engage with the Committee on the importance of volunteering.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and to schedule an informal briefing.

  • Correspondence from Mr Patrick Masterson expressing concern regarding changes to student fees.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel outlining the current position in relation to the on-going monitoring of Post Project Evaluations.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this correspondence to the Department for comment.

  • A letter from Ofqual requesting the opportunity to brief the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and to schedule a briefing in its Forward Work Programme.

  • A letter from the Universities and Colleges Union welcoming the decision not to increase student fees.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • A letter from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, enclosing correspondence from Jim Nicholson MEP regarding the European Lifelong Learning Programme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence and to send an acknowledgement letter.

  • Legacy Report from the Older Peoples Advocate.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the Report.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the new Budget Flexibility Scheme, and the 2011-12 Monitoring Rounds.

Agreed : The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Environment, requesting that an attached letter on ‘Reducing Energy Costs’ should be forwarded to the Department for Employment and Learning for comment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the letter as requested.

The Committee also noted a number of invitations received.

9. Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme for the remainder of the calendar year.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to schedule these briefings.

10. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held on Wednesday, 28 September 2011, at 10.30 am at Parkanaur College, Castlecaulfield.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.34 pm

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning
28 September 2011

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