NICVA responds to confirmation that part of Shared Prosperity Fund is to be reallocated within UK Government Financial Settlement for NI

14 Mar 2024 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 14 Mar 2024

NICVA believe the decision to roll £22.6m of Northern Ireland’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund into the financial settlement between the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, is both disappointing and short sighted.

While claiming to increase the Northern Ireland Executive’s spending power by up to £708 million over five years, the UK government has in reality compromised the region’s capability to tackle our fundamental challenges, including economic inactivity.

With programme administration removed there is now around £26m left to invest, which represents a decimation of vital funding to support people including those living with a disability, carers, people not in education or training, and long-term unemployed.

Celine McStravick, NICVA Chief Executive said:

“Northern Ireland has the highest rates of economic inactivity in the UK.

“The national rate is sitting at an unacceptable 26.4% and our rate is a further 5% above that, with as many as one in three working age adults in Belfast out of the workforce.

“This just isn’t good enough.

“The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was meant to achieve better outcomes and address regional imbalances through the current government’s flagship Levelling Up programme.

“This announcement will do nothing to “level up” this key challenge here, but instead serves to widen the gap between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“The voluntary and community sector provide vital services and support that will reduce economic inactivity in the long-term and they need resourced to deliver this.

“We need this funding now, and we need it beyond the closure of Shared Prosperity Fund in March 2025.

“NICVA will be seeking assurances from UK Government as to the existing projects, as well as engaging with the NI Executive who have been delegated authority on the spend of the repackaged funding.

“We hope locally accountable Ministers will see the need to invest in programmes to tackle economic inactivity and ensure that the money is returned to support those for whom it was initially intended for, and who need it most.”

shauna.oneill@nicva.org's picture
by Shauna O'Neill

Communications Officer

[email protected]

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