- In May 2016 the Department for Communities was established following the restructuring of Northern Ireland Departments
- It is the largest of the nine NICS Departments and work with 15 Arm's Length Bodies and number of Advisory Groups
- Around some 8,500 people are employed by the Department, accounting for one third of NICS employees
- It has an annual budget of almost £7 billion, including expenditure of £5.9 billion on social security and pension payments
The Department is structured into five Groups:
- Housing, Urban Regeneration and Local Government - Deputy Secretary
- Engaged Communities - Deputy Secretary
- Strategic Policy & Professional Services - Deputy Secretary
- Work & Health - Deputy Secretary
- Supporting People - Deputy Secretary
In supporting and advising the Minister, the Department’s main functions include:
- the promotion of a healthy housing and the provision of decent, affordable, sustainable homes and housing support services
- a social welfare system including focused support to the most disadvantaged areas
- providing training and support to jobseekers and employers
- bringing divided communities together by creating urban centres which are sustainable, welcoming and accessible to live, work and relax in peace
- supporting local Government to deliver effective public services
- maximising public benefits from the culture, arts and leisure sectors
- tackling disadvantage and promoting equality of opportunity by reducing poverty, promoting and protecting the interests of children, older people, people with disabilities, and other socially excluded groups; addressing inequality and disadvantage
Departmental Management Board
The Departmental Management Board which forms part of the Departments’ Corporate Governance Framework comprises of the Permanent Secretary (Chair) and the Deputy Secretaries for Strategic Planning and Professional Services; Housing, Urban Regeneration and Local Government; Engaged Communities; Work & Health; and Supporting People.
There are also two independent members; Neil Bodger and John West. Information on the Board’s remit and responsibilities can be found in the Operating Framework section of the Corporate Governance Framework document.
The Board has also established a Departmental Audit and Risk Assurance Committee to support the Accounting Officer in the responsibilities with issues of risk management, control and governance. A Department Information Risk Committee also ensures that appropriate policies, management and governance systems are in place to effectively protect the vast volume of Information which the Department holds. Other sub-committees may be established as and when required to facilitate delivery of departmental business, encourage sharing of experiences and embed better corporate working.
Assembly Written Questions (AQWs)
The Department commenced publication of its statistics on Assembly Written Questions (AQWs) on a quarterly basis, in January 2021.
Assembly Questions are tabled by MLAs and used as a tool to provide information and report on matters within the relevant Minister’s remit. The questions and answers are made available to the public via the NI Assembly website.