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Public service cutbacks will do long-term harm

Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan (News, Jan 5) is right that the budget cuts will impact on public services, especially those provided by organisations that work on the front line in disadvantaged communities.

Services to the elderly, people with disabilities, the long-term unemployed, young people, women and children will be decimated. Advice and addiction services, adult education and counselling will be reduced or disappear.

Such cuts might solve a short-term problem for Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, but will hugely increase the pressure on the Departments of Health, Social Development and Justice.

It's not rocket science - early intervention saves money. It's cheaper to enable an individual to get the skills to access employment than to pay that individual benefits for the rest of their lives.

Economist John Simpson states that "there is pain to come, but we have to realise collectively that it's necessary because we have been living in a fool's paradise".

As a worker in the community sector in Belfast for the last 25 years, I can confidently state that some sections of this "collective" never had the chance to live in a "fool's paradise", but have been living with the pain of poverty their whole lives.

PAULINE KERSTEN

Conway Education Centre, Belfast

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