Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 21 June 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 10:04am.

1. Apologies

Apologies were indicated as above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 14 June 2012       

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 14 June 2012 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson advised Members that he had received information on a bond finance scheme for Scottish housing associations.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the Clerk to arrange an informal meeting with representatives of the organisation behind the scheme after the Committee meeting on 5 July.

Mr Fra McCann joined the meeting at 10:05am

The Chairperson advised Members that he has been asked to Chair an event organised Parkinson’s UK on Making Personal Independence Payment work for neurological conditions.

4. Matters Arising

Members considered the Department’s draft consultation document regarding the Fundamental Review of the Regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Clerk to draft a letter of approval for next week’s Committee meeting.

Members considered a draft response to the DWP DLA reform and Personal Independence Payment consultation. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed the draft response.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister advising that he has written to his Ministerial colleagues seeking their agreement to introduce the Welfare Reform Bill.

The Committee considered a paper from Research and Information Services regarding income limits in boiler scrappage/replacement schemes in other jurisdictions.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask if the £40,000 total household income cap includes income of dependants who are of working age.

The Committee considered a draft response to the DFP discussion paper on Maximising the Assembly’s Contribution to the NI Budget Process.

Agreed:  The Committee were content with the draft response and agreed to forward this to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

5. Concordat Action Team on Bureaucracy – Departmental Briefing

The following officials from the Department joined the meeting at 10:11am:

  •    Ms Catherine McCallum, Head of the Voluntary and Community Unit;
  •    Mr Michael Donnelly, Voluntary and Community Unit; and
  • Mr Gordon Bell, Voluntary and Community Unit.

The officials briefed the Committee on the work of the Concordat Action Team on Bureaucracy. 

A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including the need to reduce the amount of bureaucracy in funding arrangements; the work activity which is currently underway; and the Department’s longer term workplan.

Some Members questioned why the Law Centre was selected for the Working Smarter Pilot Project.  Members were of the view that the Law Centre is already a well-established and highly professional organisation and that a Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership might have been more suitable for the Pilot Scheme.

Mr Alex Easton left the meeting at 10:29am

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10:31am

Members welcomed the aims of the Concordat Action Team and look forward to receiving the project team’s final report when it is available.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 10:41am. 

6. Welfare Reform Reports – Briefing by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for             Children and Young People (NICCY)

The following representatives from NICCY joined the meeting at 10:41am

  •    Ms Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, Commissioner; NICCY
  •    Ms Mairéad McCafferty, Chief Executive; NICCY
  •    Ms Marina Monteith; Children and Youth Programme, UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster; and
  •    Ms Goretti Horgan, Policy Unit ARK and Institute for Research in Social Sciences, University Ulster.

Members welcomed the reports and commented on the success of the recent launch event.

The representatives briefed the Committee on the findings and recommendations of the reports and answered questions on a range of issues including the impact welfare reform and the changes to benefits will have on children and young people; the need to review the Work Capability Assessment; the need for a Childcare Strategy; and areas of flexibility regarding parity.

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 11:17am

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11:23am

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 11:26am.

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11:26am

7. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Members of the Reserve      Forces) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made.

8. Statutory Rules

The Committee noted the following commencement order:

  • Pensions (2012 Act) (Commencement No. 1) Order (NI) 2012.

The Committee considered The Occupational and Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR237/2012 The Occupational and Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and recommends that it be confirmed by the Assembly

The Committee considered The Occupational and Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 11:29am

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR238/2012 The Occupational and Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

The Committee considered The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR240/2012 The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.

9. Correspondence

The Committee considered a response to the Committee regarding proposals for future payment of Special Needs Management Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this response to NIFHA who have previously written to the Committee on this issue.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Department which provided information on the outcome of the Proposed Introduction of Regulations to Ban Certain Irresponsible Drinks Promotions Consultation.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on the outcome of the consultation at next week’s meeting.  The Committee also agreed for    next week’s meeting to begin at 9.30am.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding the work undertaken to develop a new Discretionary Support Policy and to advise of its plans   to embark on a period of public consultation on this draft policy.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department once all  responses have been collated.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the future of EU funding after 2013.

The Committee considered correspondence from Belfast Healthy Cities which requested an opportunity to brief the Committee.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the Clerk to liaise with the OFMdFM Clerk regarding an event in the Long Gallery.

The Committee noted a press release from the Security Advisory Committee regarding a call for evidence on Universal Credit and related Regulations.

The Committee considered a press release from the Department regarding the NI Poverty Bulletin.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on the findings in the bulletin.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for the remaining items of correspondence to be     dealt with as per 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 9.30am on Thursday 28 June 2012 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.  

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11:36am

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
28 June 2012

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