Latest on Department for Communities Budget

Read here how the current proposals for the Department for Communities budget if implemented could leave major funding shortfalls in wide range of areas 

On 17th February, NICVA received a briefing from the Department for Communities on the latest position with regard to Department’s budget.  The briefing highlighted that the currently proposed budget for the Department falls well short of the needs they have identified, and that their recent bids from the overall government pot for over £300 million of additional resources to meet these needs have so far been unsuccessful.

They summarised the current position as follows –

  • The proposed DfC 2021-22 Budget is flat (ie not increased from 2020/21) at £824.8m with exception of £1m additional for Mitigations.
  • Pay and inflationary pressures in DfC, ALBs and Supporting People Programme have not been covered will need to be absorbed within the Department’s budget (ie there is budget to cover funding at 2020-21 levels but with no inflationary increase)
  • No Covid-19 Recovery funding – this means DfC is not getting the Barnett consequential from the UK Department of Work and Pension’s (DWP) increase in UC benefit delivery and labour market interventions including upfront childcare. £126.9m of this funding remains to be allocated to NI government departments.
  • No NDNA funding – this means DfC cannot progress with any new Mitigations, 2 Child Policy or SRTI.  Costs for Social and Language Strategies, Stadia Programmes and City Deals will have to met by DfC if work on these is to progress.
  • No funding for Housing Transformation or Brexit impacts and preparation
  • Net baseline £224.8m Capital – this represents an increase of £10m on 2020-21

The areas where the Department has identified unmet need and (so far unsuccessfully) bid for extra funding include –

  • Supporting People inflationary bid (£6.5m) and NIHE revenue pressures (£5.7m).
  • Covid-19 - Benefit Delivery Response (£31.8m) Recruitment commenced in line with DWP for 900 additional staff to administer increasing working age benefit caseloads
  • Covid-19 - Labour Market Interventions (£24.7m) and Restart (£12m) – includes JobStart, Advisor Discretion Fund (including upfront childcare) and Work Experience which were due to launch on 14 December 2020 and Work Ready Service Provision.
  • Covid-19 Other bids (£27.7m) – includes Sports recovery (£6.3m), Arts recovery (£6m), Homelessness (£2m), Supporting People programme (£4.5m), Community Support programme (£3m), Social Supermarkets (£1.9m), DWP digital services (£1.4m), Employment practices in the Voluntary and Community Sector (£1.1m), support for town centres (£0.8m) and IT write off costs (£0.7m)
  • Covid-19 - Grants to Councils (£53.0m)
  • New Decade New Approach (£89.1m) – includes New Mitigations (£57.7m), Special Rules for Terminal Illness (£2m), Offsetting 2 Child Policy (£28.8m) and Child Funeral fund (£0.7m).
  • New Decade New Approach (£7.3m) – includes Independent Advice (£2m), Language strategies (£2m), Social strategies (£0.6m), Sign language commitments (£0.9m), Regional and Sub-Regional Stadia work (£0.7m), Housing staff to deliver NDNA (£0.5m) and City deal work (£0.6m).
  • Brexit (£8.4m) – includes support for Vulnerable Households (£2m), Local Government C3 arrangements (£0.9m) and Homelessness (£5.5m).
  • Transformation (£3.1m) – includes Housing Transformation (£0.5m) and Housing Programme improvements (£2.6m).

The Department is currently consulting on the equality impacts of the proposed DfC 2021-22 budget (see here) and the Department of Finance is consulting on the overall draft budget (see here)  Both consultations close on 25th February.

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