Budget passed: protecting the vulnerable must now be a priority
NICVA welcomes the final NI Executive budget while not underestimating the difficult situation it and the Assembly has faced.
Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA, acknowledged that given the choice, a coalition government would not choose to develop a budget in the face of an election.
“This budget was particularly difficult given the course of action decided upon by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition which made unprecedented cuts to Northern Ireland 's public expenditure.
“NICVA is under no illusion that this is a perfect budget or that it will offer full protection to the least well off. The real implications of what has been agreed will not be known until departments begin to make the difficult decisions now facing them.
“However it is now time for the real work to begin. Northern Ireland needs imaginative solutions to the delivery of public services and the development of the economy if we are to make the best of a difficult situation over the next four years.
“This Budget agreement is important because it means that government departments can now begin to allocate funding to essential services. While the Assembly has been debating the budget, groups working with vulnerable people have been in financial limbo waiting to discover if the funding to support their work will continue beyond the 31st March.
“Employers providing services like childcare, essential skills training, counselling and advice, personal care for older and disabled people, support to families in crisis, youth clubs and residents groups right across the voluntary and community sector were faced with making staff redundant. NICVA is committed to ensuring that, as the out-working of the budget filters down through the hundreds of budget holders in government, vulnerable people and disadvantaged communities will not bear the brunt of what is to come.”