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.

 'When I use a statistic' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'. 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make statistics mean so many different things.’ 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.” (with apologies to Lewis Carroll).

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency yesterday released it's updates figures on multiple deprivation in Northern Ireland. The last statistics were published in 2010.

As shown in the table, the top 20 most deprived Super Output Areas are dominated by North Belfast, West Belfast and Derry.

North Belfast has the highest number with 9 wards in the top 20: Water Works 2, Ardoyne 2, New Lodge 2, Woodvale 1, Ardoyne 3, Woodvale 2, Water Works 1, Ardoyne, 1 and Woodvale 3. 

In the plethora of social security changes and cuts implemented in Northern Ireland as part of the so-called ‘Fresh Start’ Agreement, few have had such a brutalising impact as benefit sanctions – the withdrawal of social security entitlements for those who are deemed not to meet the conditions of the benefit they are claiming.

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.