DEL BUDGET STRIKES BLOW TO VOLUNTARY AND COMMUNITY SECTOR AS MINISTER MOVES TO CUT EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND FOR VCS BODIES

Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry, today announced; “a 10.8% cut to the Department will have a knock-on impact for the community and voluntary sector in terms of grants coming from our Department”

The announcement of such severe cuts will have huge repercussions for many organisations within the Voluntary and Community Sector, notably Action Mental Health (AMH).

On ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’, David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health responded to the news of these cuts;

“It is with deep regret that I am responding to the Minister’s pledge for cuts in this sector without any prior consultation from the Department of Employment and Learning.

As Chief Executive of an organisation which awarded 2,753 training certificates for people across Northern Ireland last year, I am very disappointed to learn that our service provision appears to be undervalued and misunderstood.”

Action Mental Health support the stance of NICVA’s Chief Executive Seamus McAleavey who earlier today stated;

“Quite simply the Minister proposes to protect his public expenditure allocations to statutory organisations by sacrificing the work of voluntary and community organisations.”

Action Mental Health has been providing a bespoke service aimed at helping people get back into employment through the learning of new and valuable skills. At AMH we provide specialised educational services for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. We deal with thousands of clients on a yearly basis who trust and value our work. AMH would urge the Minister to consult sufficiently with the sector and come to see for himself the successful service we provide for boosting the employability of people across NI.

David Babington concluded by saying;

“Action Mental health has worked hard to put ourselves in a situation where we can provide a quality, trusted and worthwhile service. We are one of Northern Ireland’s biggest providers of further education courses which provide a pathway to employment for thousands of people annually. Cuts to European Social Funding for this sector would jeopardise our ability to deliver a service which to date has been hugely successful and essential for our clients.”

AMH echo the sentiments of NICVA by asking that the Minister provides ‘fairness’ for our sector when implementing budgetary measures for 2015-16.


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