NICVA delegation met with First Minister and deputy First Minister at Stormont
The Ministers briefed NICVA on their meeting with Chancellor George Osborne. They have raised a number of key points with the Chancellor and the NICVA representatives were heartened by what they heard. A number of strong representations on funding issues have been made and the Chancellor has agreed to consider these.
The focus is on the St Andrew's Agreement and the commitment to at least £18billion capital investment. Peter Robinson says the current government’s proposals would halve that. NICVA Chair Bob Stronge said: "There is no doubt we are facing tough financial challenges. However the NICVA delegation left the meeting heartened that the First and deputy First Ministers are working together to secure the best possible settlement for Northern Ireland."
The funding settlement for Northern Ireland will still be very difficult and the Northern Ireland Block will still be cut significantly in real terms.
NICVA representatives shared with Ministers the concerns of the voluntary and community sector on the delivery of public services and support for community development in Northern Ireland. Strong emphasis was placed on treating the sector fairly and NICVA reiterated its position that we were not taking a “begging bowl approach” to the crisis as that devalued the role of organisations that made outstanding contributions to public service delivery.
In a tight financial environment, value for money and outcomes are the essential ingredients for spending resources and voluntary and community organisations are happy to be judged by that yardstick. Fair treatment in relation to other sectors was the key issue stressed by NICVA.
Examples of very cost-effective interventions by voluntary and community organisations, as highlighted on NICVA’s website, and which save Department’s considerable expenditure were also highlighted.
The First and deputy First Ministers agreed to return to discussions after the Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor on 20 October. NICVA suggested that the Ministers should reconvene the Cross Sector Advisory Forum on the Economy to try and achieve a consensus on the way forward between the Northern Ireland Executive and key sector stakeholders.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that he and the First Minister were absolutely committed to getting an agreed budget at the Northern Ireland Executive in the best interests of people here.
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