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Welcome to chrislyttle.com where you can discover more about me and East Belfast, the constituency I represent at the Northern Ireland Assembly. I believe MLAs should be in touch with local people. That's why I will be using this website to provide you with useful information about my work on your behalf, my latest press releases and newsletters plus ways to get in contact. Thank you for visiting my site and I look forward to hearing from you soon.Chris_Lyttle_Digital_Signature
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  • Chris and his colleagues supporting the IF campaign
  • Chris speaking in the chamber
  • The cranes at Harland and Wolff - East Belfast
  • C.S. Lewis Library - East Belfast
  • IFA Celtic Event
  • Chris helping to bring the G8 Youth Summit communique to the Assembly
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Standing up for Independent Advice Services for the most vulnerable

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As a strong advocate for Independent Advice Services in our community, I used the Welfare Reform Bill debate on 24 February to seek the assurances of the Minister for Social Development for adequate support for this vital provision.

I pointed to independent advice services' undisputed economic and social value. They provide hands-on assistance to constituents and benefit the wider community.

It is startling that the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre achieves the outcomes it does with only around £70,000 in public funds to do so.

With those limited funds EBIAC and other organisations like it generate millions of pounds each year in additional financial assistance for those most in need in our community.

I asked Minister Storey specifically, how the £4·5 million budget for advice services will be distributed and what outcomes it will achieve. I also asked what progress the Society Security Agency was making toward its targets for benefit uptake and how the Minister believes councils will be able to distribute and maximise resources more effectively than independent advice services.

Minister Storey outlined progress the Social Security Agency should make via 'Maximising Incomes and Outcomes', a three-year plan to improve the uptake of benefits to secure at least £30 million in additional benefits for a minimum of 10,000 people by 2016. The Minister told me that the final evaluation of the year 1 programme for 2013-14 is now complete, and the high-level outcomes appear positive, with £14·2 million awarded in additional benefits and 4,266 people benefiting.

I welcome the commitment given by the Minister to consider a contract being developed with the independent advice sector that would continue during the implementation phase of welfare reform and will follow this up with the sector.

I have first-hand experience of the dedicated and expert manner in which independent advice services help people in our community and will continue to give them my support.

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Constituency Report

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Chris in the constituency