28 November 2017
East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons has welcomed news that the Department for Communities is to release funding for the popular Volunteering Small Grants Programme.
Following the passage of the Budget Act at Westminster, the Department has allocated £200,000 to the programme for this year.
Mr Lyons said: The future of this popular fund had been put in jeopardy as a direct consequence of Sinn Fein’s failure to form an Executive. The absence of a Minister meant that no funding had been allocated to the programme for the financial year 17/18. In many cases, this funding was the only source of income for groups across the province and its removal would have had a devastating impact on local communities.
Whilst this late allocation is of course a welcome reprieve, community groups still face an uncertain future. The former Sinn Fein Finance Minister’s decision not to bring forward a budget, before his party cynically collapsed the Assembly, meant that it was left to Westminster to give security to the many volunteers who benefit from this funding.
The good work of our community organisations and volunteers should not be suffering as a result of the intransigence of Sinn Fein. It is important that all parties come together in the coming days to establish an Executive and ensure that Ministers are in place to provide the financial security and certainty community groups need going forward.