Anti-Poverty Strategy co-design group - terms of reference

The Department for Communities (DfC) will establish an Anti-Poverty Strategy Co-Design Group (the Group). The Group will advise DfC on the development and drafting of a new Anti-Poverty Strategy which is evidence-based and targeted to address objective need. The Group will provide an advisory role.

Role and Purpose of the Group

The Group is being established to:

  • help DfC to understand the experience of, and issues faced by people of all age groups for whom the Strategy will deliver, including children and young people;
  • ensure the lived experiences of people are appropriately reflected in the Strategy, obtain the views of relevant stakeholder groups on its content and themes, consider urban/rural implications, provide feedback on these to DfC and ensure these views are appropriately reflected in the Strategy prior to DfC issuing it for public consultation;
  • work alongside DfC to ensure that the draft Strategy addresses the themes, content, key actions and gaps in provision that have been identified by the Expert Advisory Panel and wider stakeholder engagement including the Panel’s recommendation on:
    • whether the Anti-Poverty Strategy should cover all age groups or a stand-alone Child Poverty Strategy should also be developed;
    • a definition of objective need[1] in relation to the Anti-Poverty Strategy (NB approval should then be sought from the Executive for the definition (if required).
  • throughout development of the Strategy, maintain focus on addressing the themes and biggest issues affecting people of all age groups, including children and young people in NI as a result of living in poverty or likely to become so;
  • support DfC in the production of an evidence-based Strategy and action plan which is outcomes-based, appropriately aligned to Programme for Government and takes account of international obligations;
  • constructively challenge DfC throughout the development of the Strategy and action plan, and prompt all NICS departments contributing Strategy actions to target resources at the priority areas which need to be addressed; and
  • assist DfC in developing detailed proposals for the establishment of robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms with meaningful involvement from representatives of the sections of society at which the Strategy is targeted.

The Group will have a key role in the co-design and development of the Strategy. Final decisions on the content of the Strategy and the actions associated with it will be the responsibility of DfC and the Minister for Communities prior to the draft Strategy being presented for public consultation and Executive agreement.

Scope and priorities

The Group’s role will be to support and advise DfC in the development and drafting of a cross-departmental Strategy and supporting action plan.  The Group’s remit is to focus on:

Poverty issues affecting NI as a whole, and that are within the competence of the Assembly. 

Whether the Anti-Poverty Strategy should cover all age groups or a stand-alone Child Poverty Strategy should also be developed;

Agree with the Expert Advisory Panel a definition of objective need in relation to the Anti-Poverty Strategy (NB approval should then be sought from the Executive for the definition (if required).

The Group’s work programme will be agreed with DfC immediately following its appointment and kept under review for the duration of its work.

Membership and appointments

Whilst membership is still being finalised, it is expected that the Group will have upwards of 18 members.  Each member will be required to commit to participating in the Group until a final Strategy has been published.  The Strategy is due to be launched by 31 December 2021.

Members will be required to attend Group meetings which will be convened monthly, and may also be called upon to answer email queries and attend additional meetings on an ad hoc basis.  Members of the Group may additionally be asked to attend relevant events.

Membership of the Group will be drawn from organisations with a presence in NI that represent the breadth of work in the sector and have strong connections across the range of stakeholders whose views will need to be reflected in the Strategy.  Organisations will be asked to nominate one representative of management grade to participate in the Group until a final strategy is published.  Representatives may be replaced if they cease to be employed by their organisation.

The Group will be chaired jointly by a representative from DfC and one other member of the Group.  The Group will be asked to nominate and agree the co-chairperson at its first meeting.

Attendance at meetings will be virtual.

Membership of the Group is voluntary and unpaid.  Members may be able to recover any reasonable expenses incurred for travel and subsistence, at the discretion of DfC, in accordance with relevant NICS rates and guidance.

Conduct and Confidentiality

Group members will be asked to declare any conflicts of interest, and must adhere to the Seven Principles of Public Life and GDPR obligations.

Group members may be given access to information not yet in the public domain or which is policy under development.  This information must not be shared outside the Group, including in the press or on social media, without prior written permission from DfC.  This applies both during and after the Group’s term of appointment.

Membership of the Group may be revoked by DfC if a member is found to have disclosed information inappropriately or failed to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life.

Administrative Support

The Group’s work will be supported by the relevant DfC policy team and, where appropriate, the Department’s Professional Services Unit.  Support provided by DfC may include, but is not limited to, organising meetings, taking minutes, maintaining records in accordance with legislative requirements (GDPR) and general administrative support.

DfC will arrange for the Group to meet with the Expert Advisory Panel to discuss the Panel’s recommendations prior to finalisation and presentation to the Minister.

DfC will also arrange for the Group to meet with the Cross-departmental Working Group at appropriate times, to discuss the content and actions put forward by departments for inclusion in the Strategy and action plan.

Anti-Poverty Strategy Co-Design Group

Proposed Membership

Equality Commission for NI

The Equality Commission is a non-departmental public body established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and sponsored by the Executive Office.  Its powers and duties derive from a number of statutes which have been enacted over the last decades, providing protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion and political opinion, sex and sexual orientation.  It also has responsibilities arising from the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in respect of the statutory equality and good relations duties which apply to public authorities.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) Policy Officer

The Commissioner’s role is to safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people.  NICCY is currently concentrating on poverty, mental ill health and education inequalities.

Commissioner for Older People (COPNI) Policy Officer

The Commissioner is an independent champion for older people, who safeguards and promotes their interests.

Disability Action

Disability Action is an NI-based charity that works with people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, hidden disabilities and mental health disabilities.  It works to promote, protect and uphold the human rights of disabled people.

Employers for Childcare

Employers for Childcare is a Social Enterprise and a registered charity.  It was developed from a community project set up in 1998, encouraging employers to implement family friendly policies in the workplace.  It identified the barrier that a lack of affordable quality childcare presents to working parents.  Its ethos is to address childcare not only as a social issue but also as a labour market and economic issue.  As a charity, its aim is to make it easier for parents with dependent children to get into work and to stay in work.  The charity’s work includes providing a Freephone helpline and outreach service through a Family Benefits Advice Service alongside carrying out research and lobbying work on behalf of parents.

Parenting NI

Parenting NI was established in 1979 as the Parents Advice Centre.  It provides free support for parents across NI.  Parenting NI Freephone Helpline and other regional services, initially delivered by volunteers and now by trained staff, has helped thousands of parents, grandparents and others in a parenting role for over 4 decades.

Parenting NI is committed to supporting all parents and ensuring that their voices are heard whenever decisions are made that will affect them.

Trussell Trust

The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of food banks and provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK. They support more than 1,200 foodbanks across the UK to provide a minimum of three days nutritionally balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crisis they may face. They bring together the experiences of food banks in their network to challenge the structural economic issues that may lock people in poverty.

Children in NI

Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI) is the regional umbrella organisation for the children's sector in Northern Ireland.  CiNI’s vision is to make Northern Ireland a society where all children are valued, treated fairly and are able to flourish.  CiNI aims to influence policy development and policy cycle agenda to ensure children are at the centre of decision making.  CiNI is the Secretariat to the All Party Group on Children and Young People.  CiNI is also driving forward the ‘End Holiday Hunger’ campaign, their mission – no child should go hungry during school holidays.

Children’s Law Centre

The Children’s Law Centre was founded in 1997 based on the principles laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It works to protect the rights of all children living in NI but in particular those who are the most disadvantaged, especially children who are living with disabilities, have special educational needs, mental health problems and are experiencing discrimination. It aims to complement existing services provided by the voluntary, community, statutory and legal sectors; work in partnership with children, parents, carers and other agencies; provide accessible information, advice and representation; promote children's participation; provide education and training programmes to increase understanding of children's rights; and engage in legislation and policy commentary.

Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships

In June 2003, the then Department for Social Development launched ‘People and Place - a strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal’.  Neighbourhoods in the most deprived 10% of wards across NI were identified resulting in 36 areas being targeted for intervention.  Neighbourhood Partnerships were established in each Neighbourhood Renewal Area as a vehicle to tackle deprivation through local planning and implementation.  Each Neighbourhood Partnership includes representatives of key political, statutory, voluntary, community and private sector stakeholders.  Together, they have developed long term visions and action plans designed to improve the quality of life for those living in poverty and deprivation.

NI Anti-Poverty Network (NIAPN)

NIAPN is a member-led organisation of over 300 individuals and organisations committed to tackling poverty.  It was established in 1990 as part of an EU-wide move to address poverty and social exclusion.  Its mission is to attain a poverty free society by empowering communities and influencing government through research, education and campaigning.  NIAPN also networks with other organisations concerned with poverty and its affect, and is part of the European Anti-Poverty Network.

Advice NI

Advice NI, a registered charity founded in 1995, exists to provide leadership and services to its 71 member organisations and to ensure accessible advice services across Northern Ireland.  Advice NI members, the independent advice network, offer free, independent, high quality advice on issues such as benefits; debt; housing; employment; disability; community care; consumer issues and the EU Settlement Scheme.  Advice NI also delivers a range of advice services to the public including Debt and Money, Tax and Benefits, EU Settlement Scheme and Business Debt.  It works with older people supporting them to access their rights and entitlements online.  It offers a wide range of award winning training, online and face-to-face, accredited and non-accredited.  It campaigns on issues raised by the independent advice network to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland.

Age NI

Age NI is the leading charity in Northern Ireland dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life.  It informs and lobbies local and NI government to prepare and plan more effectively for the opportunities and challenges of an ageing society, and to ensure that older people’s issues are represented at the highest level. Age NI are challenging government to tackle the barriers of poverty and discrimination, and to improve health & social care provision.

Rural Community Network

The Rural Community Network is a regional voluntary organisation established by community groups from rural areas to articulate the voice of rural communities on issues relating to poverty, disadvantage and equality. It is a membership organisation with two community representatives from each of the six counties with statutory, voluntary, farming, environmental, cross border and other sectoral groups making up the rest.


NICVA, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, is a membership and representative umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.

With over a thousand members - ranging from household name charities to grass roots community groups - it lobbies and campaigns to advance the interests of the people and communities that our members support.  It offers a wide range of practical services, products and support to our members to help them do what they do best - find innovative solutions for social challenges.

Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network

CWSAN is a Local Rural Support Network supporting local communities and groups in Mid Ulster. The primary aim of CWSAN is to support local community development and to facilitate networking between groups in the area. Cross community and cross border visits have helped to embrace both communities and encourage to inclusion by bringing groups together through information and experience exchanges.

CWSAN is involved in a number of working partnerships that tackle issues such as the environment, transport and tourism. The formation of cluster groups to work on local newsletters, festivals, community tourism, youth issues etc. has helped to empower communities and sustain and improve the rural quality of life. CWSAN representative will be Conor Corr, CWSAN Development manager.

Barnardo’s NI

Barnardo’s is the largest and oldest national children’s charity in the UK.  Barnardo’s NI works with children, young people and families across Northern Ireland to promote better outcomes and build better futures. The organisation works collaboratively across all sectors and political parties to achieve positive outcomes for all children.  It delivers a wide range of services, from providing family support and early intervention, to working directly with children and families who have experienced adversity and need our support. 

As well as providing direct support through its services, Barnardo’s aims to influence policy and practice so that children, young people and families across Northern Ireland can build a better future.

By gathering evidence from its service delivery and carrying out research, Barnardo’s develops policy on the issues that matter to the children, young people and families we support and campaign to influence change.

Services Industrial Professional Technical Union

The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) represents over 180,000 workers from virtually every category of employment across almost every sector of the Irish economy. SIPTU provides the expertise, experience and back-up services necessary to assist workers in their dealings with employers, government and industrial relations institutions.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions Northern Ireland Committee

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is the single umbrella organisation for trade unions on the island of Ireland. Congress is the largest civil society organisation on the island. It is the apex body representing 832,000 workers affiliated through 64 trade unions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The organisation is required, through its mission statement, to strive to achieve economic development, social cohesion and justice by upholding the values of solidarity, fairness and equality.

The Northern Ireland Committee (NIC) of the ICTU is the representative body for 34 trade unions with over 215,000 members across Northern Ireland. In membership terms, it is the largest civil society organisation in Northern Ireland.

[1]Section 28E (1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 provides that the Executive Committee shall adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to tackle poverty, social, exclusion and patterns of deprivation based on objective need. In 2015 Section 28E was the subject of a judicial review.  In his ruling Mr Justice Treacy wrote “The concept of ‘objective need’ is obviously central to the statutory provision the intention of which is to remove or reduce the scope for discrimination by tying the allocation of resources to neutral criteria that measure deprivation irrespective of community background or other affiliation. It is difficult to see how the Executive could develop and deliver a Section 28E compliant strategy without adopting some agreed definition of objective need but that will be a matter for the Executive in due course.”



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