15 Asks for the Northern Ireland Executive

The current Northern Ireland Executive is entering its final year and a half  – more than enough time for it to take action and make a tangible difference to people in Northern Ireland.

Here are 15 things the current Executive can either complete or significantly progress before the June 2016 Assembly elections.

A year and a half left, so much still to do, still time to make a positive difference…

1. Guarantee a Statutory Right to Advice as part of any Welfare Reform

If a Welfare Reform Bill is passed, it should include a statutory right to independent face-to-face advice for all those affected by it – as first proposed by Advice NI in evidence at the Social Development Committee scrutiny stage.

Find out more about why this is imporant to the Northern Ireland Advice Services Consortium here.

2. Keep on Supporting People

Supporting People services are an effective, preventative programme delivered overwhelmingly by the voluntary and community sector to 26,000 of the most vulnerable in our society. Whilst providers were given a 5% uplitt in this financial year prior to this project funding for individual projects had been frozen for seven years, threatening the quality and viability of schemes. We ask that this funding is retained at least this level for 2015/16.

3.  Renewable energy

Push forward a cross departmental, dedicated focus to achieve the Programme for Government commitment of “achieving of 20% of electricity consumption from renewable sources.”

4. Publish a costed action plan alongside the Childcare Strategy in early 2015

This should detail the resources available to implement each aspect of the Strategy.

Find out more about why this is important to Employers for Childcare here.

5. Implement the age discrimination in goods and services legislation 

This legislation provides a major opportunity to enhance and improve the lives of people, through prohibiting unjustifiable age discrimination, removing barriers to people participating in society, and challenging negative stereotypes.

Read more about why this is important to Age NI and the Children's Law Centre here.

6. Support the bill to create a Statutory Duty to Co-operate on Children’s Services.

Placing a legal obligation on government departments, authorities, agencies, public bodies and councils to work together in the planning, commissioning and delivery of children’s services ensures the best outcomes for children and young people are achieved.

7. Make an appointment to the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty

The appointment of representation from Northern Ireland onto the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty would mean that Northern Ireland is represented along with the other UK countries and represent an opportunity to garner expertise, share best practice and improve delivery.

8. Finish the implementation of the Prison Reform Programme

Though some progress has been made to implement the recommendations of the 2011 Review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, there is still much to be done. This includes: implementation of the healthcare-related recommendations; confirmation of plans regarding estates and a commitment to the resources needed; and the absolute end to the imprisonment of people who default on fines.

9.  Progress the implementation of the recommendations of the Youth Justice Review

In particular the Executive should formally cease the imprisoning of under 18s in Hydebank Wood and support the opportunity for people to apply to have offences removed from their criminal records if they occurred under the age of 18.

Read more about why this is important to NIACRO here.

10. Extend the work already begun under the Pathways to Success strategy

The strategy seeks to effectively join up actions being taken across the Executive to ensure that every young person in Northern Ireland is in meaningful education, training and employment. This is a good example of policy practice and implementation

11. The good practice in developing and implementing the Pathways to Success strategy and the NEETs Forum should be followed for the development of:

  • Sexual Orientation Strategy
  • Childcare Strategy
  • Disability Strategy
  • Racial Equality Strategy
  • Active Aging Strategy
  • 10 year Children’s Strategy

This method could also be extended to the Delivering Social Change programme, Together: Building a United Community and the Reform of Public Services.

12. Open Government

Support open government by making annual versions of the Land and Property Service pointer data freely available.

13. Public Health and Safety

Support all young people in Northern Ireland to be taught CPR and Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) awareness at secondary school.

14. Resettlement of people with a learning disability

Continue the financial support to the resettlement of individuals with a learning disability from Muckamore Abbey.

Read more about why this is important to Mencap here.

15. Build more social housing

Provide support to Housing Associations and Councils to enable achievement of the Programme for Government committment to building 8,000 new homes during the lifetime of this Assembly.

 

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