03 November 2017
Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart has hit out at SF for their refusal to implement a budget, before bringing down the Executive, which will now affect the popular ‘Volunteer Small Grant Programme.’
Commenting Carla Lockhart said, “It is disgraceful that the failure of Sinn Fein to implement any form of a budget is deeply impacting our communities and the exemplar work they do in society. DUP Minister for Communities Paul Givan had given a four year instruction that the 'Volunteer Small Grant Programme' was to be rolled out again, only to have that shelved as a result of having no budget in place. I have no doubt that were a functioning Executive in place, this funding would have been retained.
Since the inception of the scheme, the numbers of those applying have continued to rise with over 2,700 successful applications since 2013 and nearly £3million given to those groups. Nearly 17,000 new volunteers have been supported through this scheme, equating to a vast amount of people who were able to sustain their community groups and give training to new volunteers.
In many circumstances this scheme is the only source of public funding for groups. Yet the overall expenditure of the scheme is relatively modest. This scheme is a direct victim of the failure to re-establish devolution.
No budget and a failure to implement one, is the work of Sinn Fein. There has been an increase in decisions such as these with parties left to lobby civil servants in protest. Parties should be sitting at an Executive table taking on decisions to govern NI and make decisions.
The good work community organisations and our wonderful volunteers do on a daily basis, should not be suffering as a result of no Executive. I would call on the Permanent Secretary to assess this scheme and view it favourably given the impact it has on each community.”