Department for Communities
|Formed||1 December 1999|
|Headquarters||Lighthouse Building, 1 Cromac Place, Gasworks Business Park, Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 2JB|
|Employees||7,452 (September 2011)|
|Annual budget||£505.4 million (current) & £161.6 million (capital) for 2011–12|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The Department for Communities is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for Communities.
The department was previously created in May 2016 following the Fresh Start Agreement and the dissolution of several departments, such as the Department for Social Development, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department for Employment and Learning from which several functions have amalgamated.
The department's main responsibilities are as follows:
- community and voluntary sector development
- urban regeneration
- social legislation
Northern Ireland has parity with Great Britain in three areas:
Policy in these areas is technically devolved but, in practice, follows policy set by Parliament to provide consistency across the United Kingdom.
The department is also responsible for the following public bodies:
(jointly with the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister)
- Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
- Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board for Northern Ireland
- Rent Assessment Panel
- Vaughan Charity
It also oversees the Office of the Social Fund Commissioner.
DfC's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:
- the Department for Work and Pensions (on social security);
- the Department for Communities and Local Government (on housing and urban regeneration);
- the Cabinet Office (on the voluntary and community sector);
- the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (on gambling and alcohol licensing).
In the Irish Government, its main counterparts are:
- the Department of Social Protection;
- the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (on housing);
- the Department of Justice and Equality (on gambling).
Housing policy in Northern Ireland was originally a responsibility of local government and the Ministry of Home Affairs, which (similarly to the Home Office) retained responsibility for policy areas not delegated to other ministries.
A separate Ministry of Health and Local Government was established in June 1944, as part of the welfare state. In January 1965, that department was divided between the Ministry of Development (including housing policy) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (including social security).
The two ministries were, respectively, renamed as the Department of the Environment and Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) under direct rule, introduced in March 1972. Health and social services and environment ministries were also included in the Northern Ireland Executive briefly established in 1974.
DfC mainly combined housing and social security policy from those departments. The initials DHSS are still used locally to describe benefits and benefit claimants.
Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The process was known as devolution and was set up to return devolved legislative powers to Northern Ireland.
A devolved minister first took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:
- between 12 February 2000 and 30 May 2000;
- on 11 August 2001;
- on 22 September 2001;
- between 15 October 2002 and 8 May 2007.
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption.
Ministers for Communities
|Office established as Minister of Social Development|
|Nigel Dodds||DUP||2 December 1999||11 February 2000|
|Nigel Dodds||DUP||30 May 2000||27 July 2000|
|Maurice Morrow||DUP||27 July 2000||24 October 2001|
|Nigel Dodds||DUP||24 October 2001||14 October 2002|
|Margaret Ritchie||SDLP||8 May 2007||24 May 2010|
|Alex Attwood||SDLP||24 May 2010||5 May 2011|
|Nelson McCausland||DUP||16 May 2011||23 September 2014|
|Mervyn Storey||DUP||23 September 2014||12 January 2016|
|Lord Morrow||DUP||12 January 2016||25 May 2016|
|Office renamed Minister of Communities|
|Paul Givan||DUP||25 May 2016||Incumbent|
Direct rule ministers
During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:
- "Northern Ireland Quarterly Employment Survey Historical Data". Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 99
- Northern Ireland Act 1998, Part VIII, Social security, child support and pensions
- "About". DWP. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "Communities and Local Government: About us". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "Big Society". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "About us". DCMS. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "Department of Social Protection: Overview". Welfare.ie. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "Department of Environment, Community and Local Government: Mission Statement". Environ.ie. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- "Department of Justice and Equality: Other Regulatory Functions". Justice.ie. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007
- Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001