COMMITTEE FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2010
ROOM 29, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Sydney Anderson MLA
Mrs Mary Bradley MLA
Mr Mickey Brady MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Mr Alex Easton MLA
Mr Tommy Gallagher MLA
Ms Anna Lo MLA
Mr John McCallister MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA
Mr Peter McCallion (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Kathy O’Hanlon (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Stewart Kennedy (Clerical Supervisor)
Ms Allison Ferguson (Clerical Officer)
The meeting began at 9.46am in open session.
There were no apologies.
Mr Anderson joined the meeting at 9.46am.
2. Chairperson’s Business
The Chairperson indicated that he would need to leave the meeting at 10.15am.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 18 th November 2010
Agreed: The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 18 th November 2010 were agreed.
4. Matters arising
Mrs Bradley joined the meeting at 9.48am.
Mr Craig joined the meeting at 9.48am.
4.1 Voluntary and Community Sector Call for Evidence Event
Members noted the details of the Voluntary and Community Sector Call for Evidence Event which is being facilitated by NICVA.
4.2 Ministerial Correspondence: Caravans Bill
The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister for Social Development, setting out his intention to put down minor and technical amendments to the Caravans Bill.
4.3 Departmental Guidance to the Housing Executive on Homelessness Advice
Members considered correspondence from the Minister for Social Development and draft guidance on homelessness advice for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department to clarify how homeless people suffering from mental illness will be identified to ensure that they receive appropriate support. The Committee further agreed to defer its consideration of the draft guidance until a response has been received.
4.4 Ministerial Correspondence: Welfare Reform Statement
The Committee noted correspondence and the Ministerial Statement of 23 November on Welfare Reform.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department to seek an update on the proposed statutory rule: the Housing Benefit (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2010.
4.5 Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill
Members noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment regarding the Committee Stage of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it did not wish to make a submission to the Committee Stage of the Bill.
Mr Easton joined the meeting at 9.52am.
4.6 Northern Ireland Housing Council Annual Report 2009-10
The Committee noted the Northern Ireland Housing Council’s Annual Report 2009-10.
5. Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill – Evidence from Disability Action
Members noted the written submission from Disability Action on the Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill.
The Chairperson welcomed Monica Wilson from Disability Action to the meeting at 9.53am, and invited her to brief the Committee.
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 10.06am.
Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 10.13am.
The Chairperson thanked the witness for her evidence.
The witness left the meeting at 10.15am.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department:
(A) requesting assurances that there will be guidance for social landlords on the appropriate use of information relating to people with mental health problems who may be victims of anti-social behaviour or who may be wrongly perceived as being anti-social tenants; and
(B) requesting details of the level of information to be included in the register of landlords, e.g. whether the register will record if a house meets the Lifetime Homes Standard and other information regarding disabled access.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 10.15am.
The Deputy Chairperson assumed the Chair at 10.15am.
6. Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill – Evidence from Northern Ireland Local Government Association.
Members noted the written submission from the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA).
The following representatives from NILGA joined the meeting at 10.16am to brief members on the Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill:
Donal McLaughlin, Lisburn City Council;
Claire O’Neill, Belfast City Council;
Karen Smyth, NILGA; and
Ian Giboney, Omagh District Council.
The witnesses apologised that Cllr Jenny Palmer and Cllr Joan Baird, NILGA’s lead members on housing, were unable to attend the meeting.
Mrs Bradley declared an interest as a member of Derry City Council at 11.40am.
The witnesses left the meeting at 11.45am.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department:
(A) requesting clarification on the status of single-let dwellings and whether the landlords for these properties will be exempt from registration;
(B) requesting clarification regarding district councils’ ability to recover the costs of prosecutions relating to breaches of the Private Tenancies Orders;
(C) suggesting that guidance be provided to district councils on the quality of evidence required to establish family relationships between tenants in HMOs; and
(D) seeking details of the Department’s plans in respect of consultation on new housing fitness standards.
7.1 The Committee noted correspondence dated 18 November 2010 from the Department in response to the Committee’s letter of 9 November 2010 regarding the Provision of Services (Street Trading) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
7.2 The Committee noted correspondence dated November 2010 from Disability Action providing its views on the Department’s Disability Action Plan, in response to the Committee’s letter of 21 September 2010.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a written briefing from the Department on all the responses to the consultation on its Disability Action Plan.
7.3 The Committee noted correspondence dated 11 November 2010 from Advice NI providing a copy of their November newsletter, which included a news release, “Universal benefit being paid for by savage cuts to the social security system”.
7.4 The Committee noted correspondence dated 18 November 2010 from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) advising that its Deputy Chairperson will attend the Social Development Committee’s Call for Evidence event on 25 November 2010.
7.5 The Committee noted correspondence dated 18 November 2010 from the Committee for OFMDFM requesting information on Departmental activity on European Issues.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department to seek an update on relevant European issues.
7.6 The Committee noted correspondence from CPPS Seminars providing details of a seminar entitled: A Vision for Adult Social Care on Monday 21 February 2011 in London.
7.7 The Committee noted miscellaneous correspondence including the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s eleventh annual report and its latest monthly newsletter publication and correspondence from Belfast Healthy Cities providing details of their AGM on Wednesday 8 December in Belfast.
8. Legislative Consent Motion
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Michael Pollock and Ms Marion McKay, Social Security Policy and Legislation Division to the Committee at 10.49am.
The officials briefed the Committee on the Legislative Consent Motion associated with the Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill.
Mr Easton left the meeting at 11.03am.
The Chairperson thanked the officials.
The officials left the meeting at 11.04am.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department to request information on the pilot studies for the Saving Gateway Account schemes which were undertaken in Great Britain.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to support a Legislative Consent Motion associated with the Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill insofar as the provisions relate to the Saving Gateway Accounts.
9. The Occupational Pensions (Revaluation) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2010
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the proposed Statutory Rule to be made.
Mr Craig declared an interest as a member of an occupational pension scheme at 11.06am.
Mr Easton returned to the meeting at 11.06am.
10. Forward Work Programme
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the Forward Work Programme.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.07am.
11. Any Other Business
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to send e-Christmas cards to witnesses to the Committee.
12. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will take place on Thursday, 2 December 2010 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings at 9.30am.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.08am.
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
2 December 2010
18 November 10 / Menu