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Anti-Poverty Strategy

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what (a) meetings and (b) correspondence he has had with pressure groups and charities in each of the last five years on his Department’s anti-poverty strategy; (107624)

(2) what (a) meetings and (b) correspondence he has had with representatives of the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network on the development of his Department’s anti-poverty strategy in each of the last five years;

(3) how many people with experience of living in poverty are involved in the development of his Department’s anti-poverty strategy; and if he will take steps to increase this figure.

During the development of “Lifetime Opportunities”, the Government’s Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy for Northern Ireland, which was launched by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 13 November 2006. My officials met and corresponded with a range of pressure groups and charities from the voluntary and community sector including the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network (NIAPN).

During the two extensive periods of public consultation which were held during 2004 and 2005, NIAPN on behalf of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, co-ordinated a number of province wide workshops which provided individuals, groups and representatives from areas experiencing poverty and social exclusion with an opportunity to comment on proposals for an Anti-Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland. In addition to providing written reports on each of the workshops NIPAN also submitted two formal consultation responses.

One of the commitments provided in “Lifetime Opportunities” is the establishment of a ministerially led Forum which will oversee progress made against the strategy’s objectives goals and targets. It is anticipated the Forum will include representatives from charities and groups from the voluntary and community sector representing the interests of individuals experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

The Forum will be asked to advise on effective ways of engaging with those experiencing poverty as part of this process.