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28 September 2016

The Committee for Communities - What does it do and how does it work?

What is the purpose of the Committee?

Paul Givan MLA - Minister for the
Department for Communities
The Committee for Communities was established to advise and assist the Minister on matters within their responsibility. The current Minister is Paul Givan MLA.

The Committee undertakes a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Department for Communities and plays a key role in the consideration and development of legislation. Some of the areas the Department for Communities is responsible for include:

  • Housing
  • Sport
  • Urban regeneration
  • Arts & Culture
  • Benefits & Pensions
  • Museums & Libraries
  • Historic Environment
  • Equality and Good Relations
  • Policy and strategy in the voluntary and community sector
  • Local government
  • Public Records Office

How does it work?

The Committee determines its forward work plan at the beginning of each session.  It does this by looking at the topics which the Department has responsibility for, and researching which areas need to be improved or examined.  The Committee liaises with stakeholders on matters of concern to them, and incorporates what issues the Department will be focusing on, as well as what legislation it plans to bring forward.  All of this information enables the Committee to formulate its work plan for the year ahead.

Throughout the year, the Committee examines and monitors Departmental policy and financial spending, scrutinises proposed legislation, and conducts inquiries into areas of current interest.

The Committee examines ‘Quarterly Monitoring Rounds’ which are reports produced by the Department, outlining the expenditure of the Department.  The reports detail how the Department has spent its budget to date, if it is able to surrender any unused money, if it intends to make any spending changes to what was agreed, and whether it needs to bid for any additional funds.  There are three Monitoring Rounds each year: June, October and January.

The Committee invites the Minister and Departmental Officials to attend meetings on a regular basis, to update and inform the Committee Members on the implementation of any current and future policies. Committee Members have this opportunity to directly question the Minister and Departmental Officials on their work.

The Committee produces a number of reports on its work which outline the decision making process behind its findings and recommendations.


Who sits on the Committee?

There are 11 MLAs on the Committee for Communities.

Committee Membership

  • Committee Chairperson:Mr Colum Eastwood (SDLP) Foyle
  • Deputy Chairperson: Ms Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin) Fermanagh and South Tyrone
  • Mr Steven Agnew (Green Party) North Down
  • Mr Andy Allen (UUP) East Belfast
  • Mr Jonathan Bell (DUP) Strangford
  • Mrs Naomi Long (Alliance) East Belfast
  • Ms Nichola Mallon (SDLP) North Belfast
  • Mr Fra McCann (Sinn Féin) West Belfast
  • Mr Adrian McQuillan (DUP) East Londonderry
  • Ms Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin) North Belfast
  • Mr Christopher Stalford (DUP) South Belfast

How can I get involved with the work of the Committee?

There are lots of ways you can get keep up to date with the work of the Committee:

Go To Meetings
The Committee for Communities meets each week, usually in Parliament Buildings, when the Assembly is sitting.  You are welcome to come and sit in the public gallery and watch the meeting.

Watch / Listen Live
You can watch the Committee meetings on the live stream on the Assembly’s website and access the ‘Watch/Listen Again’ the day after the meeting.

Give Evidence
The Committee carries out inquiries into specific areas of interest. You can share your views with the Committee at anytime but especially when the Committee is carrying out an inquiry.  Information on how and when to do this will be on the Committee’s homepage, via @NIA_Communities on twitter, in the weekly Committee newsletter and advertised in the newspapers.

Social Media
You can follow the Committee on Twitter @NIA_Communities

Write to the Committee
You can also contact the Committee by writing to the Clerk:

Dr Kevin Pelan
Room 430,
Parliament Buildings,
Ballymiscaw, Stormont,
Belfast BT4 3XX

Email: Committee.Communities@niassembly.gov.uk

Or contact Committee Members directly; you can find their details on the Committee page  or on the Your MLAs page on the Assembly’s website.