All Party Group impressed by sector’s contribution
In the election for the Officers of the Group, the following were returned:
- Chairperson: Roy Beggs MLA
- Vice-Chairperson: Jonathan Craig MLA
- Secretary: Trevor Lunn MLA
- Treasurer: Chris Lyttle MLA
- Assistant Secretary: Gerry McHugh
Returning Chairperson Roy Beggs MLA thanked members for their support and invited NICVA Chief Executive, Seamus McAleavey, to present to the group on the Smart Solutions in Tough Time campaign.
Thanking the All Party Group for the opportunity to address this meeting Seamus gave an overview of NICVA’s engagements with the Executive Departments, to reinforcing the message that the voluntary and community sector needs to be treated fairly in any discussion on cutting budgets.
Seamus highlighted a number of case studies which provide value for money and explained how the voluntary and community sector delivers first class frontline services. One such case was Home-Start and how it costs just £1,134 to provide Home-Start support to a family for a year and how Home-Start can support 40 children living at home for the cost of taking one child into care.
Lisa McElherron, NICVA’s Head of Public Relations, talked about the positive report from Northern Ireland Audit Office and how describes the voluntary and community sector’s significant contribution to the achievement of the Executive's strategic goals and priorities.
Following the presentation Seamus took questions from the MLAs on departments protecting themselves and cutting external services. Seamus iterated how we need our elected representatives to challenge Departments on their budgets to ensure they do not salami slice the sector.
The group agreed to propose the following motion to the Assembly:
“That this Assembly acknowledges the essential role played by voluntary and community organisations in regenerating communities and delivering public services; notes the Northern Ireland Audit Office report 'Creating Effective Partnerships between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector' which found that the voluntary and community sector makes a significant contribution to the achievement of the Executive's strategic goals and priorities; and calls on the Executive to ensure that the voluntary and community sector is not subject to disproportionate cuts in expenditure in the 2011-15 Budget.”
We hope to see it discussed in the Assembly in the near future.