Protecting the voluntary and community sector from disproportate cuts
Everyone will have heard the news that the NI Executive has agreed a draft budget. There has been a lot of discussion on the scale of cuts or reallocations. Basically Northern Ireland has the same amount of cash available to spend next year as it has had to spend this year and the last four years – so a real term reduction.
In 2010 NICVA warned of 10 years of tough financial times ahead.The biggest pressure since 2010 has been increased costs due to inflation. There have been lots of other ‘inescapable pressures’ like extra contributions to public sector pensions and new Ministerial priorities, which mean the hole gets bigger in public sector finances. So effectively the NI Executive is stopping funding a significant range of activities so that it can continue to fund others.
The impact will be tough.
NICVA is concerned that the voluntary and community sector will face unfair, disproportionate cuts. Voluntary and community organisations in funding relationships with the DoJ are already facing immediate cuts in year. In year cuts are also rumoured in DHSSPS and acting on behalf of organisations funded by the department NICVA recently wrote to Minister Jim Wells about the delay in funding decisions. In the letter to the Minister, Seamus McAleavey said;
“If you are considering changes I would recommend that you allow time to make the changes in an orderly way rather than in-year, as quite frankly some organisations will not be able to cope, will have to cut activity, jobs and might not even survive.”
“The danger of disproportionate cuts as NICVA sees it, is that many of our organisations are funded from what is often seen as discretionary funds but that they are doing a real job that meets your Department’s objectives. These organisations are often best placed to deliver those services but budget-holders might not see their work as core in the same sense as public services delivered by the public sector.”
NICVA expects to have a response from the Minister soon.
Please send any information on cuts you are facing to [email protected].