News | Ramsey: Minister must take hands on approach to resolve funding crisis

Ramsey: Minister must take hands on approach to resolve funding crisis

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has called on the Minister for Employment and Learning to take a hands-on approach to resolve a funding crisis in his department. Mr Ramsey, who sits on the DEL committee, took departmental staff to task on Wednesday following what he described as a "flawed and inconsistent manner in which DEL has rejected funding applications from a number of community and voluntary organisations.

Mr Ramsey said: "In all my years on this committee I have scarcely seen such a serious issue. There is a high level of anger and frustration at the Department's decision which I have rarely encountered before.

“A large number of community and voluntary groups travelled to Stormont to witness the debate: During which the Department's decision making processes were described as "shambled, flawed and not fit for purpose.

"The DEL staff denied having been in contact with any groups after the application deadline but I confronted them with evidence to the contrary.

"These decisions have a very real chance of devastating the community and voluntary sector, especially the Women's sector as 90% of their core funding applications were rejected at stage one of the process.

"The decision is jeopardising jobs and some groups have not been able to pay staff for months. Their situation is untenable and these organisations are now faced with the very real possibility of going to the wall.

"Upon listening to the evidence presented this morning it is clear that there has certainly been poor communication from departmental officials to the groups involved. Inconsistencies have also undermined the entire European Social Fund application process and the manner in which applications for funding have been handled has been appalling.

"The whole process is flawed and I call on the Minister of Employment and Learning to take a hands-on approach to resolve the matter. I think a root and branch investigation into every aspect of these decisions is required.”

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