Question Time: Social Development Tuesday 19 May 2015

Ross Hussey asked the Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey for an update on the proposed personal independence payment pilot scheme at the start of Oral Question Time. The Minister stated "following the Stormont Castle agreement on welfare reform in December 2014, an amendment was tabled to the Northern Ireland welfare Bill that made provision for a pilot scheme to be carried out in advance of personal independence payments going live in Northern Ireland. It was passed by the Assembly at Consideration Stage of the Bill's passage, and, since then, my officials have been working to put in place the arrangements to implement that commitment".

The Minister was also asked for for his assessment of the funding pressures faced by the community and voluntary sector. The Minister explained that "as Minister for Social Development with lead responsibility for relationships with the voluntary and community sector (VCS), I am fully aware of the funding pressures faced by the sector. The voluntary and community sector is seen as a key social partner of government as we build a participative, peaceful, equitable and inclusive community in Northern Ireland. As you are aware, the strain on public finances in 2015-16 has been considerable, and that has impacted on the financial relationship between government and the sector. When finalising the budget for my Department, I instructed my officials to ensure that resource allocation decisions being made across the Department were prioritised, transparent, accountable and evidence-based. As Minister, I fully recognise the role of the voluntary and community sector in delivering so many necessary public services on behalf of government and the impact that reduced resourcing can have on those vital services".

During oral Question Time to the Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey, he was asked questions on Abandoned cars in Carrickfergus, the affordable warmth scheme and Social Housing in West Belfast. The Minister was asked about the Housing Executive Points system, the North West Development Office closure and the hugh pressure that will be placed on Newcastle and South Down as a result of Newcastle hosting the Irish Open golf tournament during the 15 minute period of Topical Questions.

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