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Financial Assistance Act (Northern Ireland) 2009

Section 2 – Unsatisfactory funding arrangements: power to provide financial assistance

Section 2 gives the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly, the power to determine that a situation exists which requires financial assistance to be provided to tackle poverty, social exclusion or patterns of deprivation.  They must also determine that existing funding arrangements are ineffective, inadequate or unsatisfactory to address the situation.  It also enables the First Minister and deputy First Minister to designate a Northern Ireland department for the purposes of making regulations to establish a scheme to provide the financial assistance.

Subsection (1) gives the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly, the power to act where they determine that a situation exists which requires financial assistance to be provided to tackle poverty, social exclusion of patterns of deprivation based on objective need but there are no arrangements in place for providing that assistance, or where such arrangements are in place, they are, or are likely to be, ineffective, inadequate or unsatisfactory.

Subsection (2) enables the “relevant department” to make regulations to establish a scheme to provide financial assistance to tackle poverty, social exclusion or patterns of deprivation based on objective need.  Any regulations made under this section must be made within 6 months of the making of the determination under subsection (1).

Subsection (3) provides a definition of the expression “relevant department” used in subsection (2).  It means either the Northern Ireland department designated by the First Minister and deputy First Minister for the purposes of making regulations under this section or (if no department is designated) the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

Subsection (4) provides that any regulations made by a Northern Ireland department following designation under subsection (3), must be approved by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

Subsection (5) provides that any regulations made under this section must be laid before the Assembly in draft and subsequently approved by a resolution of the Assembly.  This means that the regulations must be approved by the Assembly before they can be made and brought into operation.

Subsection (6) provides for statutory consultation if a scheme, established under regulations made under this section, imposes functions on a public body other than the department making those regulations.  It requires the department making the regulations to consult with the public body concerned before making the regulations.

Subsection (7) provides that the determination under subsection (1) and the designation under subsection (3)(a) must be in writing and may both be contained in the same document.

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