Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. This morning, officials are answering questions from MLAs in the Social Development Committee, on a review of regulation of the private rented sector.
  2. Representatives of Juno, planning and environmental consultants, are briefing the committee as part of its consideration of the Regeneration Bill.
  3. At 2pm, you can watch a recording of Wednesday's meeting of the Employment Committee. Members will hear from representatives of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
  4. Assembly researchers will brief MLAs on the Youth Employment Initiative and the committee will consider elements of the Working Families Act 2015.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

Happy Easter

The Assembly goes into recess now until after Easter.

We will be back at Stormont for the first plenary session of the summer term on Monday 13 April.

Until then, keep yourself informed about all the pre-election news on the

BBC NI politics page.

That's all for today

The committee is adjourned.

Youth Unemployment in the EU

An Assembly researcher is briefing the committee on the European Union's The Youth Employment Initiative.

The programme aims to address high levels of youth unemployment across the EU.

Northern Ireland did not reach the eligibility criteria for funding as it had a youth unemployment rate of 19.1% in 2012.

'Gap-year' NEETs

Dr Donnelly tells the members that the percentage of NEETs actually increases in the top 25% of the income distribution.

Gap year
Thinkstock

He suggests that this may be caused by young people who are "taking a gap year, or are being supported by their parents".

Addressing youth unemployment

Dr Stephen Donnelly briefs the committee on how the statistics inform the review of Pathways to Success the Employment Department's policy on NEETs.

Dr Stephen Donnelly
BBC

Seventeen per cent of people aged 16 to 24 are NEET, the worst figure in the UK.

The figures are high in Strabane and Londonderry, and there are "black spots" in Belfast, Dr Donnelly explains.

Long term unemployment 'worst in UK'

Turning to the figures for long-term unemployment, Dr Gillan says 63% of those registered unemployed have been without work for over a year.

Job centre
BBC

This is nearly twice the UK average, and has more than doubled since 2006, he says.

'We don't do the future'

William Irwin
BBC

The DUP's William Irwin asks Dr Gillan if he is confident that the long-term trend of growth in private sector jobs will continue.

"We don't really do the future in official statistics," Dr Gillan.

He says Ulster University's Centre for Economic Policy has predicted that the rate of growth is likely to slow.

Growth in 'NEETS'

Fra McCann of Sinn Fein notes the "worrying figures" showing an increase of 1,000 in NEETs (young people not in employment , education or training).

Fra McCann
BBC

'Slight decrease'

Dr Gillan says "we have already shed quite a few public sector jobs".

There has also been "a slight decrease" in private sector jobs compared to the previous quarter.

This compares with a constant growth in private jobs over the previous 11 quarters.

'Positive development'

Dr James Gillan of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) explains the latest employment figures.

Dr James Gillan
BBC

Six per cent of the economically active age group has been unemployed in December to March, down 0.3% over the previous quarter.

He describes this as "a positive development".

"We've been tracking the UK fairly closer," Dr Gillan says.

Parental pay

Employment and Learning Committee
BBC

The committee votes on a number of statutory rules relating to shared statutory parental pay.

Robin Swann

Robin Swann
BBC

Ulster Unionist Robin Swann is chairing the meeting.

We're back

There are no committee meetings at Parliament Buildings this afternoon, so we have a recording of Wednesday morning's Employment Committee.

That's all for now

The rest of the meeting will be held in closed session.

Join us again at 2pm for coverage of this week's Employment Committee session.

MLAs hear from NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) about their Labour Force Survey and from Assembly Research on the youth employment initiative.

Committee in closed session

The Social Development Committee has moved into closed session to consider the latest draft report of its inquiry into allegations of political interference in Housing Executive contracts.

Council support

Roy Beggs
BBC

Roy Beggs asks how aware councils and councillors are of the work of local community groups, so they can make informed decisions as to what help is needed.

Lauri McCusker says "I would think, that from my experience, Fermanagh Council are very aware of Fermanagh Trust work and have been very supportive".

"They are aware of some of the support. Are they aware of the minutiae, of the funding and finance and what that means? No, they're not," he says.

Service provision

"We're really, really concerned about protecting the level of service provisions, not just what's might happen to our futures, it's what my happen on the ground to the communities we serve" says Lyn Moffett

'Three-way process'

Sammy Wilson asks Lauri McCusker what changes he would like to see in the bill, which would ensure the commitments to engage with community groups were honoured.

I would have liked a three-way process with local authorities, with community infrastructure organisations and with the department," he replies.

"I would have asked the officials in the departments to say what's working, what's good and what's not so good. With the changes in terms of local government, what should we protect in terms of policy and practice that works," he says.

'Loss of core funding'

Lyn Moffett
BBC

Lyn Moffett of the Ballymoney Community Resource Centre, which provides support for the local community, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities addresses the element of the bill relating to the transfer of CIF (Collaboration and Innovation Fund) resources to the 11 new 'super councils'.

The fund supports groups who work with young people who are in not in education, employment or training (NEET).

She warns the transfer could cost these organisations around £1.5m and could lead to "at least 16" of them closing their doors.

"The loss of core funding could lead to over 70 redundancies immediately and possibly 50 more, if a certain set of circumstances comes out," she says.

'Participatory process'

Representatives from the Fermanagh Trust and various community organisations are delivering a further briefing on the Regeneration Bill.

The bill would confer certain regeneration and community development powers on to the 11 new district councils.

Lauri McCusker says the bill "does not honour the government's commitment to participatory processes".

Lauri McCusker
BBC

"I think our last discussion with representatives of the department were back in November 2010," he says, "so I think the concordat, the department's corporate plan about inclusivity and collaborative working and the development of the Regeneration Bill has not been a process about engagement".

Shared spaces

Committee chair Alex Maskey asked about 'shared spaces' and how this would related to the Regeneration Bill.

Jenna Maghie also from NICVA says "councils will have responsibilities through TBUC (Together Building a United Community) and community planning to give regard to development of shared spaces".

Data collection

"Defining social need might tighten down on where money is spent," says Sammy Wilson.

But, he asks Seamus McAleavey "do you have any concerns about how the money was spent in the past?"

Mr McAleavey replies "we don't do enough work to collect data on what works and what doesn't".

"The focus was heavily on vouching, making sure the money was spent properly and accounted for and not on what the public money bought. You can account for the money well, but effectively flush it down the toilet," he says

'Targeting objective need'

Mr McAleavey acknowledges that the distribution of Neighbourhood Renewal funds is based on the Noble Indices, a mechanism designed to identify geographical areas experiencing several types of deprivation.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson says "is there not a distinction to be made between regeneration and social need, because regeneration doesn't always have to be targeted at areas where there is extreme social need. Are we bringing two issues together which are separate?"

Sammy Wilson
BBC
Sammy Wilson

Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady says "I would have thought targeting objective need is a fairly fundamental issue and is inextricably linked to regeneration".

"It is about making sure areas that need it, get it," he says.

'Patchwork approach'

Seamus McAleavey
BBC
Seamus McAleavey

TUV leader Jim Allister says the lack of a precise definition of the term "social need" means there could be a "patchwork across the 11 councils of different perception and that wouldn't be in any interests".

Seamus McAleavey from NICVA agrees, saying, "I think that's true, that's one of the reasons we're looking for some coherence across all of the councils with an adequate definition so you can maintain a programme that is likely to deliver reasonably in the same way across Northern Ireland".

NICVA briefing

Seamus McAleavey and Jenna Maghie from NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) are briefing the committee on the Regeneration Bill.

Alex Maskey chairs

Alex Maskey
BBC

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey is chairing this morning's committee meeting.

Good morning

Hello and welcome to our coverage of the Social Development Committee.

In this morning's meeting, officials are answering questions on a review of regulation in the private rented sector.

Planning and environmental consultants are also appearing in the committee to discuss the proposed Regeneration Bill.