Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 17 May 2012
Venue: Room 29
The meeting began in closed session at 10:04am
1. Fuel Poverty Report
Mr Alex Easton joined the meeting at 10:11am
Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10:15am
Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 10:17am
The Committee considered the Draft Fuel Poverty Report.
A minor amendment was agreed to paragraph 44.
Question put and agreed:
That the Report be the Second Report of the Social Development Committee to the Assembly
Agreed: The Committee agreed the following draft motion for debate in the Assembly:
That this Assembly approves the Report of the Committee for Social Development on Fuel Poverty NIA 36/11-15; and calls on the Minister for Social Development to implement its recommendations to ensure a strategic, cross-departmental and cross-sectoral approach is adopted to reduce and prevent fuel poverty.
The meeting began in public session at 10:28am
Apologies were indicated as above.
3. Draft Minutes of Meeting 3 May 2012.
Agreed: The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 3 May 2012 were agreed.
4. Chairperson’s Business
The Chairperson reminded Members that the NHBC event in the Long Gallery on 7 June commences at 12.15pm.
Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Committee meeting on 7 June to start at 9.30am to facilitate the event’s start time.
The Chairperson also reminded Members that he and the deputy Chairperson will be meeting with Lord Freud on 18 May to discuss welfare reform.
The Chairperson reminded Members that he will be speaking at a NIGAG seminar on 23 May on the work priorities of the Committee.
5. Matters Arising
The Chairperson advised Members that he has written to the Minister to express concerns on the following 3 issues:
- the announcement of the review of the NIHE double glazing programme;
- a longer term work programme, and the importance of delivering departmental papers on time if the Committee is to properly fulfil its scrutiny role; and
- Building Control Fees applied to loft insulation
The Chairperson asked if Members would be content for Barnardos to arrange a separate meeting between Children’s Aid and the Committee or with individual Members of the Committee sometime between 28 and 31 May.
Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Clerk to arrange a separate meeting with some Members on 29 May 2012.
The Chairperson advised Members that the Department has issued its completed Welfare Reform Bill EQIA and this is now available on the Department’s website. The Chairperson reminded Members that the Committee is scheduled to receive a briefing from the Department at next week’s Committee meeting.
The Chairperson advised Members that the NIHE has published its Homelessness Strategy without the Committee having the opportunity to consider the draft strategy as previously requested in correspondence sent to the Department in December.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on the Strategy
The Chairperson advised Members that Research has provided the Committee with a paper on DSD Role in Social Economy Enterprise Growth.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on Social Enterprise Growth.
The Chairperson advised Members that the Law Centre’s quarterly publication has an article on its joint conference with NICVA on Welfare Reform which was attended by the Chairperson and other Members of the Committee.
The Chairperson advised Members that the Clerk has only recently received comments regarding the Department for Justice’s Draft Community Safety Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Clerk to draft a response and bring it to the Committee at next week’s meeting.
6. Town Centre Regeneration and Business Improvement Districts – Briefing by the NI Retail Consortium (NIRC).
The following representatives from NIRC Group joined the meeting at 10:39am:
Ms Jane Bevis, Director, NIRC;
Mr Tom Ironside, Director Business and Regulation, NIRC; and
Mr Andy Godfrey, Head of Corporate Affairs, Boots.
The representatives briefed the Committee on Town Centre Regeneration and Business Improvement Districts. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The Chairperson advised the representatives that the Committee previously wrote to the Department asking if any of the recommendations from the previous Committee’s inquiry into town centre regeneration had been implemented.
The Chairperson highlighted the Minister’s recent announcement that his Department’s taskforce will meet with retail traders and business people across Northern Ireland to hear their views on how to improve the performance of our local high streets, town and city centres. The Chairperson also highlighted that the Department will be introducing new legislation to allow district councils to promote street cafes.
Members held detailed discussion with the representatives regarding challenges facing town centres and high streets.
Members recognised how Business Improvement Districts can promote and implement key aspects to address local problems like leadership and investment.
Members were of the view that a more joined-up approach from Government is needed to help assist traders in town centres.
The Committee welcomed NIRC’s intention to produce and share a good practice guide across Northern Ireland.
Ms Paula Bradley declared an interest as a small business owner.
Mr Alex Easton left the meeting at 11:26am
The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the briefing.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the previous Committee’s inquiry into town centre regeneration to NIRC and the Department’s response regarding the implementations of the recommendations contained in the report.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for details on when the work of the taskforce is likely to be completed and to ask for a briefing on the taskforce report once available.
Mr Alex Easton re-joined the meeting at 11:31
The representatives left the meeting at 11:31am
7. Social Enterprise Qualification – Briefing by the Employers for Childcare
The following representatives from the Employers for Childcare joined the meeting at 11:33am
Ms Marie Marin, CEO; and
Ms Juliet Comford, Social Enterprise Development Manager;
The representatives briefed the Committee on the Social Enterprise Qualification. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The Committee welcomed the Social Enterprise Qualification and congratulated Employers for Childcare’s recent accreditation for Information Security Management.
Members acknowledged how the qualification could assist young people to develop their entrepreneurial skills and the value of social enterprise to society.
Members also welcomed the introduction of the new approved home childcare service to be launched in June.
Members asked about the level of engagement between Employers for Childcare and government departments on the qualification particularly in the context of the demand for childcare and the development of a childcare strategy.
The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the briefing and wished them well in their project and acknowledged the need for on-going engagement on this issue.
The representatives left the meeting at 11:51am
Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 11:51am
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding a future briefing to the Committee on the Housing Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department in September as the Strategy will not be available before the summer recess period.
The Committee noted correspondence from the NIHE on its Housing Market: Review and Perspectives.
Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11:52am
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding the findings of the Working Smarter pilot project.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Voluntary and Community Unit on the findings of the ‘Working Smarter’ pilot project and on proposals for a Concordat Action Team on Bureaucracy.
The Committee considered correspondence from Save the Children requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on its report on Child Poverty. The Chairperson apprised Members that the Chair and deputy Chairperson of the OFMdFM Committee are meeting with Save the Children on the 13 June.
Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Chairperson to discuss with the Chairperson of the OFMdFM Committee on the possibility of also attending the meeting on 13 June with the deputy Chairperson.
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety in relation to Business in the Community’s new campaign on health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a briefing paper from Business in the Community to the Minister.
The Committee considered correspondence from NICVA expressing concerns over the prospect of the introduction of the UK-wide Work Programme to Northern Ireland.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from NICVA on this issue. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department for details on any development to date and proposals for taking this issue forward.
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel in relation to the review of 2013-2014 & 2014-2015 Budget Allocations.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to receive a briefing from the Department on the June Monitoring Round at its meeting on 24 May before any follow-up is agreed.
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel in relation to the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007 (Disclosure of Social Security Information) regulations (NI) 2012. The Committee had no comment on the Regulations.
The Committee considered correspondence from BS Holdings in relation to an omission in the Warm Homes Scheme.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this item of correspondence to the Department for comment.
The Committee noted invitations from the Committee for the Environment and the Ex-Prisoners Working Group.
Agreed: The Committee agreed for the remaining items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the proposed next steps in the correspondence memo.
9. Forward Work Programme
Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the draft 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 24 May 2012 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting adjourned at 11:57am