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kevin
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kevin
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Community Care

The Bamford Action Plan 2009-2011 announced in October 2009, included a commitment to develop a dementia services strategy. This consultation outlines DHSSPS proposals for the establishment of a Northern Irish Dementia Strategy. Law Centre NI welcomes this development as a positive step in recognising the individual needs of people with dementia and their carers, however, our response highlights the importance of maintaining consistency with the new mental capacity legislation.

The consultation sets out the current proposals for establishing a Commissioner for Older People in NI.  While LCNI supports the move to establish a Commissioner our response calls for a wider range of powers to be available to the Commissioner than those proposed by OFMDFM to ensure that older people have a strong independent voice to represent their interests and to directly influence policy and service delivery.  

Employment

We welcome DEL’s proposal to introduce paid paternity benefits that can be accessed by the partners of mothers who have chosen to go back to work before their own maternity leave expires.<

Immigration

In principle we oppose a ‘cap’ on immigration and outline our specific concerns about how UKBA intends to implement such a cap

While we support the proposal to expand the publication of asylum data, we would urge the Home Office to publish full regional statistics on immigration and asylum matters.

We strongly support the joint efforts of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights Commission in pushing for the ratification of the UN Migrant Workers Convention 1990 in both jurisdictions.<
The Law Centre is alarmed by UKBA proposals to introduce further cuts to the asylum support system.<
UKBA intends to simplify the Immigration Rules. We welcome the proposal to retain discretion that enables UKBA to make positive decisions outside the Immigration Rules in exceptional circumstances. However, we also outline concerns relating to other proposals.<

Mental Health 

The NILC considers whether law and practice for witnesses in civil proceedings is adequate or whether a more radical departure, such as the one taken in criminal law, is required to offer protection to witnesses.  LCNI’s response highlights the importance of offering adequate protections to those civil witnesses with mental health issues. 

Social justice / Legal Services

    The Law Centre is disappointed with the Government’s proposals for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The exclusion of economic and social rights fails to protect and benefit the people of Northern Ireland and especially those who are most disadvantaged. The Government should not make the enactment of a comprehensive Bill of Rights dependent on the GB-wide rights and responsibilities debate.
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Social security

         21st Century Welfare is the coalition Government’s blue print for welfare reform.

The June 2010 Emergency Budget announced a number of changes to Housing Benefit, in particular, Local Housing Allowance, with conversion scheduled to begin from April 2011. Both the Work and Pensions Committee and the Social Security Advisory Committee launched inquiries into the impact of these amendments on  the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2010 and associated Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions Order) 2010. LCNI’s response to both Committees highlights our concern that the combined effect of these proposals will lead to sharp rises in rent arrears, evictions and cases of homelessness.

This consultation sets out proposals for the amendment of the work capability assessment (WCA). The Government expects an additional 5% of claimants to be found fit for work under the revised test which places greater emphasis on physical functioning to adaption. Our response emphasizes the need for strong safeguards to be in place for those found capable of work that have a disability or illness.

The consultation outlines the previous Government’s plans for reform of the Social Fund to make the scheme more active, easier for customers to get one-off or occasional support and to provide more support to frequent users of the Fund to tackle the underlying problems they may face.  It also details how the scheme should provide better value for money for the tax payer by reducing the number of frequent users.

The proposed Regulations bring into force some of the more concerning parts of the Welfare Reform Act 2009 which impact significantly upon Lone Parents.  LCNI’s response outlines our concerns regarding the potential impact of the proposals on lone parent families generally, lone parent families coping with certain health conditions and/or disabilities and the potential impact on child poverty.

In a joint response LCNI’s and Housing Rights Service highlight concerns with DWP proposals to reform Housing Benefit.  As part of this reform agenda we believe it will be important for the Department for Social Development to consider the following local strategic issues: The absence of a review into the implementation and impact of LHA locally; The differences between Housing Benefit in Great Britain and Northern Ireland;  Northern Ireland presents particular circumstances with regards to welfare and arrangements to move people into employment; and the capacity of the employment market.

The proposed regulations provide for the movement of benefit claims from Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance to Employment Support Allowance.<
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http://www.lawcentreni.org/consultation-responses-by-category/2010-responses.html<
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kevin
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The Service Framework for Mental Health and Wellbeing is the fourth in a planned series of Service Frameworks to be developed.  It sets out 58 standards in respect of the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, care, and rehabilitation of individuals / communities who currently have, or are at greater risk of developing, mental illness.<
Below is the full document for consultation, as well as a summary of the 58 standards and a consultation response questionnaire.<


Public Consultation Document

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Consultation Response Questionnaire

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An easy access version of the service framework is also being developed<
The closing date for responses is 18th March 2011<
Please send your response by letter, fax or e-mail to<
Service Frameworks Delivery Unit
DHSSPS
Room D1
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate
Belfast, BT4 3SQ<
Tel: (028) 9052 8283
Fax: (028) 9052 2500
Email: serviceframeworks@dhsspsni.gov.uk<
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