Hanna: Community groups needs answers over funding

claire hanna ESF funding UKSPF brexit

SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has said that community and voluntary groups need answers amid uncertainty around future funding.

She was speaking ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday, secured by Ms Hanna, to debate EU replacement funding for Northern Ireland.

Ms Hanna said the UK Government must outline their plans to replace European Social Fund (ESF) money.

South Belfast MP Ms Hanna said:

“In a matter of weeks ESF funding will cease in Northern Ireland imperiling the future of hundreds of community groups and their staff that provide vital services for people here. The government had promised that millions in funding would be replaced through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) but there has been little to no clarity and these organisations are now facing a drastic cliff edge.

“These community and voluntary organisations make a huge contribution to life in Northern Ireland, doing everything from supporting people with disabilities and additional needs, to helping those with addiction and mental health problems and providing those who are unemployed with new skills and the confidence to get back into the workforce. Their loss would create a huge gap in life here and thousands of people would be worse off as a result.

“This situation is reaching a critical stage, I’m aware of some staff in these organisations being put on notice and many are seriously fearing for their futures. When Brexit happened we were promised that we wouldn’t lose out, but this is yet another example of the negative impact it is having on our society. This debate is an opportunity for the government to live up to their commitments and explain exactly how they plan to replace this funding. If this funding fails to materialise people in Northern Ireland will suffer with communities losing vital services that many rely on to help them throughout their lives.”

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