Public Affairs

Taking decisions

Following the introduction of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018, Northern Ireland’s departments are now required to prepare a monthly summary report of decisions taken by senior officials using the guidance. Below are the decisions taken in November 2018.

 

The Executive Office (TEO)

Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018:

Following the transfer of the statutory responsibility for gender anti-discrimination law in 2016 from OFMdFM to the Department for Communities, legal ambiguity arose around whether Regulation 4 had been effected. TEO states that in order to ensure that DfC is fully empowered to deal with gender anti-discrimination matters, and particularly so that it can address a minor inoperability in the legislation related to EU Exit, the Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018 now confirm the transfer of the relevant function.

Department of Finance

Public Sector Pay Policy:

A decision to determine the policy for 2018/19 was taken by the Department, representing an extension to the previous Minister’s approach and in line with budgetary decisions taken nationally and by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for 2018-19 [Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) Act 2018].

In-year monitoring:

Previously recommended by the Finance minister and made by the Executive, DoF made final allocations on 22nd November 2018 following discussions with senior officials from all of the departments.

Department of Health

Community pharmacy:

Additional interim funding was allocated to community pharmacy for 2018/19 and 2019/20 in response to significant concerns expressed about funding pressures by community pharmacy contractors and their representative body, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), wholesalers and elected representatives.

Pay:

A formal offer was made to trade unions based on the application of the English Agenda for Change model on current pay values for 2018/19. The offer represents a revalorisation cost of £60.45 million, an additional 2.97 per cent to the overall Health and Social Care paybill.

Department for Infrastructure

The Water Environment (Floods Directive) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018:

In operation since 21 December 2018, the regulations update out-of-date references to other legislation and ensure the current regime is compliant with the most up-to-date legislation and reflect the decisions of previous ministers. The Regulations also needed to be made before subsequent EU Exit regulations.

George Best Belfast City Airport:

‘Guidance and Administrative Framework into Late Flights at George Best Belfast City Airport’ was issued to improve monitoring and enforcement of the restriction contained in a planning agreement relating to delayed flights; and to control certain aspects of the airport’s operations to deliver environmental objectives, particularly noise control.

Roads:

A decision was taken to make the following subordinate legislation: Parking Places and Waiting Restrictions Orders in respect of Cookstown; Dungannon; Magherafelt; Toome and Derry; and The Schools (Part-Time 20mph Speed Limit) Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2018. Five of the Orders will introduce parking and/or waiting restrictions in the towns/city in question and one will allow part time speed limits to be introduced at two schools.

Department of the Economy

South Eastern Regional College:

Appointment of a temporary chair to the governing body to allow time to recruit a permanent replacement and to comply with the statutory requirements of the college’s governance documents.

Department of Justice

Worboys judgement:

A judicial nominee was appointed to serve as a Parole Commissioner in light of the Worboys judgment, in which the court held that particularly sensitive cases should have judicial input.

RUC George Cross Foundation:

A chair was appointed to the foundation and a reserve list created, to ensure the organisation can continue to function effectively.

Mental health:

The nomination was approved of two existing members of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) to act as President of the Tribunal in “restricted patient” appeals. This will ensure the MHRT’s capacity to maintain an appropriate level of service and reduce delay in listing applications for patients subject to a Restriction order.

Council Framework Decision:

A decision was taken to agree the transposition into NI law of the Council Framework Decision relating to Accreditation of Forensic Service Providers, thereby guarding against further infraction proceedings and associated fines; ensuring the ongoing effective delivery of public services; and ensuring a consistent approach across the UK.

Firearms:

Senior officials in the Department of Justice have been permitted to consider appeals against Firearms refusal/revocation decisions made by the PSNI. This will enable due process to continue in the absence of a Minister and to mitigate against potential Judicial Review proceedings on the grounds of undue delay or Wednesbury unreasonableness.

Department for Communities

Universal Credit:

An extension to 31 January 2019 for claimants with three or more children are prevented from claiming Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, maintaining parity with Great Britain.

Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance:

Activated to support households which had suffered flooding.

Social security: Approval of ex-gratia payments by those impacted by DWP policy changes who are adopted or in kindship care. Again, maintaining parity with Great Britain.

Brexit:

Allowing Northern Ireland to be included in UK-wide funding guarantee for Creative Europe, a programme to support the European audiovisual, cultural and creative sector, that grants will be unaffected by a no deal outcome. A decision was taken to allow Northern Ireland to be included in a UK-wide mechanism to deliver the HMG guarantee for the Europe for Citizens fund and European Solidarity Corps fund in the event of a no-deal outcome.

The Social Fund and Income Related Benefits (Miscellaneous Amendments and Savings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018:

Made to amend social security legislation as a consequence of the introduction of Scotland’s Early Years Assistance. The amendments ensure parity is maintained with Great Britain in line with section 87 of the Northern Ireland Act.

The Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018:

Made to deliver the Child Maintenance Compliance and Arrears Strategy to ensure the maintenance of sustainable and efficient public services. This also ensures that Northern Ireland maintains parity with Great Britain and operates to the same timescale as DWP.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Young People:

Recommendation to TEO that Koulla Yiasouma should be reappointed for a second four-year term.

Department of Education 

Education Authority:

Extension of an invitation to the 12 representative organisations to anominate an individual to serve as their nominee on the Education Authority for a 12 month period starting 1 April 2019.

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