DSD outlines Minister's spending priorities
The meeting was attended by Barney McGahan, Deputy Secretary of the Resource, Housing and Social Services Group, David Ferguson, Deputy Secretary of the Urban Regeneration & Community Development Group and Maeve Walls, Director of Voluntary Community Unit.
Barney McGahan delivered a presentation which outlined the Minister’s priorities for the department including the protection of vital programmes (where possible) that target the most vulnerable households:
- fuel poverty (Warm Homes)
- supported housing (Supporting People)
- new build housing
- disadvantaged communities (Neighbourhood Renewal)
He also outlined the main targets for savings efficiencies:
- cutting administration expenditure - consultancy, travel, corporate services
- identifying opportunities for modernising and sharing services that will not impact on the delivery of public services (Account NI, HR Connect)
Mr McGahan recognised that the different measures being introduced by Westminster, such as welfare cuts and the universal credit system, will create a very difficult transition period. It is now the job of the Department to try and manage the transition.
He went on to say that he is acutely aware of the difficulties that lie ahead as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution but the Department will work in partnership with the voluntary and community sector to find the best path forward.
Questions and comments from the floor included:
- acknowledgment that revenue raising for the sector will be a daunting prospect but might force organisations to look for a new way of doing things
- further clarification on the administration of the social protection fund being introduced by OFMdFM
- how collaborations and mergers of many voluntary and community organisations may be the way forward to ensure survival; and
- the apparent lack of any interdepartmental working on cross cutting issues like the Child Poverty Strategy, housing and homelessness and the impact of welfare reform.
A copy of the Department's presentation is available for download below, and links to reports of the other meetings, or details of those still to take place, are listed here.
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