Sector meets Finance Directors on Budget
Opening the meeting NICVA CEO Seamus McAleavey said “NICVA requested this meeting because we are concerned that voluntary and community organisations delivering public services will be vulnerable to unfair and potentially disproportionate cuts. This is because voluntary and community sector providers are often seen as additional to statutory services – even if they have been contracted to provide the core services of a department.
As the programme of cuts rolls out we believe that the large number of budget holders across the system could be tempted to take what they feel may be easier options – cut the external or peripheral, as something that can no longer be afforded. If this turns out to be the case we are concerned that voluntary and community sector organisations will feature disproportionately highly as the easy option.”
Sector representatives at the meeting drew on their own experience and used examples from across the sector to present a robust case for continued investment in the voluntary and community sector as place to find lean organisations delivering value for money services which help government departments meet their Programme for Government commitments.
They also voiced strong opposition to the top slicing of budgets and in year cuts. They argued that simply passing on the same percentage cut to all funding streams rewards inefficiency and punishes lean organisations focused on service delivery. They added because voluntary and community organisations spend 87.3% of their income on their charitable activities, there is no cushion against cuts – they will have a very real impact on services and jobs.
The delegation from the sector went on to say that short-termism and a lack of strategic approach to dealing with budget cuts both within and between departments means we are in danger of losing capacity of organisations and sectors now that we will have to rebuild again in years to come.
Speaking after the meeting Seamus McAleavey said “The sector is realistic and is not adopting a begging bowl approach or seeking immunity from the financial pain. It is simply trying to ensure that it is not treated unfairly.”
The voluntary and community sector reprsentatives who attended the meeting were: Seamus McAleavey CEO OF NICVA, Marie Cavanagh Director of Gingerbread, Ali Fitzgibbon Director of Young at Art , Ian Jeffers Director of the Princes Trust in Northern Ireland, Olwen Lyner Chief Executive of NIACRO, John McMullan Chief Executive of Bryson Charitable Group, Paul Roberts Chief Executive of Ashton Community Trust and Koulla Yiasouma Director of Include Youth.
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