Accountability is a key principle of a Human Rights Based Approach.  Accountability is the process that provides individuals and communities with the opportunity to understand how governments are discharging their human rights obligations.

Equally, it provides government with the opportunity to explain what it has done and why. Where mistakes have been made, accountability requires redress. It is a process that helps to identify what works, so it can be repeated, and what does not, so it can be revised. Human Rights standards on economic, social and cultural rights describe accountability as involving monitoring, transparent decision-making and instituting remedies when standards are breached.

However, the starting point of accountability is information.  

For these reasons, PPR has established The Accountability Project.  This is an initiative of PPR’s policy staff, who will blog on specific aspects of the policy and research work undertaken by the organisation which we feel should be placed squarely in the public domain.  We will highlight important pieces of information and data relating to the right to housing, health, social security and employment in Northern Ireland, including Freedom of Information responses, and short pieces of policy analysis that relate to our groups’ campaigns.

We hope that the information we provide can be of use to others seeking to hold government to account for delivering on economic and social rights on the ground in Northern Ireland.

Official figures show that the three private programme providers for Steps 2 Success are falling significantly below performance targets set by the Department for Communities. Despite this they continue to hold these lucrative contracts estimated to be worth in the region of £50million. When questioned the then Minister for Communities failed to indicate whether any sanctions had been imposed. This 'light touch' scrutiny and accountability contrasts sharply with the widespread sanctioning of S2S participants, most often for simply failing 'to attend an interview'. A 4 week sanction means that participants over 25 lose £300 , a decision that increases risks of poor mental health, homelessness  and poverty.  This article examines these issues in more depth. 

An increasing number of influential bodies are calling for the capricious benefit sanctions regime to be reformed so that people are provided with the human rights protections they are entitled to.  Among the specific issues of most concern to these various bodies have been the impact of benefit sanctions on mental health, as well as the impact of sanctions on children.

FOIs by PPR show that NI Health Trusts failing in providing a safety net for homeless migrants. Government must use all existing powers to ensure the rights of asylum seekers.

With Stormont yet again teetering on the brink, this time over the Renewable Heat Incentive, people may have missed the following cracker of an example of obfuscation from the Minister for Communities, Paul Givan MLA.