Belfast Telegraph

Views sought on Investment Fund

Stormont leaders have asked for views on how to invest a special £80 million fund to help hard-pressed communities.

First Minister Peter Robinson and acting deputy First Minister John O'Dowd announced the beginning of a 12-week consultation on the Social Investment Fund.

The support package has been billed as a war chest to tackle poverty, improve run-down areas and build job opportunities by working in partnership with local communities.

Critics have demanded greater clarity over how the First Minister and deputy First Minister plan to distribute the fund. Now both office holders have asked the public to give their views.

Mr Robinson said: "The Social Investment Fund aims to reduce poverty, unemployment and physical deterioration.

"The Fund will encourage communities, statutory agencies, business and departments to work together in a co-ordinated way, reducing duplication, sharing best practice and enhancing existing provision for the benefits of those communities most in need.

"The aim of the consultation is to seek the views of the public on the proposed operation of the Social Investment Fund (SIF), including options for applying to the Fund, how the Fund should be managed and the structures to support its delivery."

Mr O'Dowd encouraged community groups and the wider public to respond to the consultation.

He added: "Your views can make a difference and I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to either respond formally to the consultation or attend one of the upcoming public meetings."

The consultation document can be accessed at the website for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister.

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