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Committee slams Department's funding approval process

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 18 February 2015

Reference: CE&L 03/14/15

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Employment and Learning has slammed the Department’s process for approving European Social Fund (ESF) monies to community and voluntary groups. 

The monies, which are awarded on a three year basis, are targeted at combating poverty and enhancing social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity.

Chairperson of the Committee, Robin Swann MLA said: “As a Committee we have been appalled at the process for awarding ESF monies for the current funding round. The application process appears to have been poorly implemented, with many experienced groups ruled ineligible.

“The evidence that we received from the Department this morning has done little to reassure us.

“We are calling on the Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, MLA to personally involve himself in the revamped process and reassure all of us--MLAs, Committee members and the groups involved in the funding process--that monies will be allocated on a fair basis, and that experienced groups will not be disadvantaged by the poor way the process has been implemented so far.

“We cannot emphasis enough the harm that this flawed process has done and is doing to confidence in the community. Groups which have been heavily involved in improving social inclusion have been put out of the running and we need to address this urgently.”

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