Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 03 May 2012

Venue: Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast

The meeting began in public session at 10:00am                   

1. Ministerial Briefing on Departmental Corporate Plan 2011-2015/Business Plan 2012-2013 and Delivery Plans relating to Programme for Government

The Minister and the following senior Departmental officials joined the meeting at 10.00am:

Will Haire, (Permanent Secretary);
Tommy O’Reilly, (Chief Executive of the Social Security Agency);
Heather Cousins, (Deputy Secretary, Resources, Housing and Social Policy Group); and
Jenny Pyper, (Deputy Secretary, Urban Regeneration and Community Development Group)

Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 10:05am

The Minister briefed the Committee on the Department’s Corporate Plan for 2011 to 2015 and Business Plan for 2012 to 2013.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

Members had a detailed discussion with the Minister and the senior officials.  Some of the issues discussed included:

  • building control fees applied to loft insulation as part of the Warm Homes Scheme and the impact this will have on the PfG target;
  • the value for money of the NIHE double glazing programme;
  • targets for social and affordable homes vis à vis the current waiting list and allocation of houses based on the common selection scheme;
  • the potential impact of welfare reform and the efforts that are being made to help mitigate the impact of welfare reform here; and
  • the Urban Regeneration and Community Development Policy Framework and the length of time it is taking the Department to adopt a new Framework.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 10:55am

The Chairperson thanked the Minister the senior officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 11:05am

Agreed: The Committee agreed to make a formal response to the plans and agreed for the Clerk to provide a draft response to be considered at its meeting on 17 May 2012.

2. Apologies

Apologies were indicated as above.

3. Draft Minutes of Meeting 29 April 2012

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 29 April 2012 were agreed.

4. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson thanked the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) for hosting the Committee meeting.

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 11:07am

The Chairperson reminded Members that he was speaking, as Chairperson of the Committee, at a Northern Ireland Commissioner and Young People’s (NICCY) event.  The Chairperson encouraged Members to read the two reports which were launched on the day.  The Chairperson advised Members that NICCY have requested the opportunity for the researches of the reports to brief the Committee.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the researchers before the summer recess.

5. Matters Arising

The Chairperson reminded Members that at last week’s meeting, the Committee agreed to provide a response to the Department for Justice’s Draft Community Safety Strategy.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the Clerk to write up any comments received as a formal response and present these to the Committee at the next meeting on 17th May.

The Chairperson reminded Members that the Clerk was to provide a paper on Special Needs Management Allowance but is awaiting further information from the Department.  The Chairperson advised that a paper should be available for the meeting on 17 May 2012.

6. Warm Homes Scheme – Briefing by the Bryson Charitable Group

The following representatives from the Bryson Charitable Group joined the meeting at 11:16am:

Mr John McMullan, Chief Executive; and
Mr Nigel Brady, Director, Bryson Energy

The representatives briefed the Committee on the Building Control Fees relating to the Warm Homes Scheme.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

Members had a detailed discussion with the representatives regarding Building Control Fees for loft insulation.   The Committee expressed its support for the Warm Homes Scheme and agreed that the issue of Building Control Fees for loft insulation needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 11:27am

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 11.33am

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11:35am

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the briefing.

The representatives left the meeting at 11:37am

Agreed: The Committee to write to the Committee for Finance and Personnel and the Committee for the Environment to highlight this issue and to ask them to contact their respective departments as a matter of urgency.

7. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

Work Place Pensions Reform

The Committee agreed for the following proposed Rules to be made:

  • The Automatic Enrolment (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012,
  • The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012,
  • The Employers’ Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012,
  • The Compromise Agreements (Automatic Enrolment) (Description of Person) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012; and
  • The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

8. Statutory Rules

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR 181/2012 The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ Report has no objection to the Rule”.

9. Correspondence

The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee Representing Independent Supporting People Service Providers (CRISPP) which requested an opportunity to the brief the Committee on the Supporting People Strategy.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from CRISPP in June 2012.

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11:44am

The Committee considered correspondence from a member of the public expressing further concerns over new changes to Disability Living Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to respond that the Committee has considered a range of issues in respect of Work Capability Assessment and will continue to raise these issues with the Department particularly in the context of Welfare Reform.

The Committee considered correspondence from Barnados inviting Members to attend an event on ‘Building a Community Schools strategy for Northern Ireland’ with the Children’s Aid Society.

Agreed: Members agreed to consider whether they would like to schedule a separate meeting with Barnardos and the Children’s Aid Society and inform the clerk accordingly.

The Committee considered an invitation from the NI Assembly Business Trust to its breakfast briefing on ‘Linking Business with the Social Enterprise Sector’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to contact the Committee office if they would like to attend.

The Committee noted correspondence highlighting the key issues discussed and decisions taken at the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting which was held on Tuesday 17th April 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the remaining items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the proposed next steps in the correspondence memo.

10. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the draft Forward Work Programme.

11. Any Other Business

There was no other business.    

12. Date, Time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10.00am on Thursday 17 May 2012 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The meeting adjourned at 11:46am

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
17 May 2012

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