Belfast Telegraph

Third sector 'suffers £2m in cuts'

More than £2 million in cuts are being suffered by voluntary and community groups in Northern Ireland, it was claimed.

Job losses and reduced services are being blamed on the cuts, with organisations helping disabled children among those struggling to cope, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action said.

The Executive is struggling to make massive savings across government following reductions to the block grant devolved from Westminster to run public services.

NICVA chief executive Seamus McAleavey said the organisation had identified more than 30 funding cuts and suspected they represented the tip of the iceberg.

"The voluntary and community sector is not naive - we know that we cannot escape the realities of the budget package the Northern Ireland Executive was presented with," he said.

"However voluntary and community organisations, which provide essential frontline services to many vulnerable people, families and communities, should be treated fairly and not be viewed as an easy place to make cuts by budget holders faced with making difficult decisions.

"Voluntary and community organisations offer smart solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing people in Northern Ireland, and in most cases the services delivered by voluntary and community organisations are effective, efficient and provide real value for money."

NICVA's CutsWatchNI project, established to monitor the impact of cuts to services provided by the voluntary and community sector, has identified more than 30 funding cuts totalling £2,027,468, resulting in job losses and reduction or discontinuation of services.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said his colleagues across parties have been emphasising the importance of protecting frontline services.

"As lead Minister for relations with the sector, I fully recognise the significant contribution that it makes and I anticipate a greater contribution still in future. We are in challenging economic times and it is imperative that everybody, including the voluntary and community sector, cuts back on bureaucracy and eliminates inefficiencies."

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