Northern Ireland news

Charity sector in NI 'under extreme strain' without functioning Executive

It has been warned that the charity sector in Northern Ireland is 'under extreme strain' without a functioning Executive

THE charity sector is "under extreme strain" without a functioning Executive, it was warned last night.

Valerie McConville, the new chief executive of CO3 which represents charity and voluntary sector leaders, said the sustainability of the sector is threatened by the recent collapse of the executive.

Ms McConville said concerns over the match funding of the European Social Fund is putting several groups and the services they provide across the north at significant risk.

"After two years of firefighting due to the pandemic, our third sector groups are stretched to the limit, with resources and reserves severely depleted," she said.

"While the Northern Ireland Executive, in particular the Department for Communities, have provided important funding during Covid through schemes like the Covid-19 Charities Fund which have helped the sector stay afloat, it is simply not enough.

"Continued uncertainty over the future of Stormont is also deeply concerning.

"The current confusion over whether ministers can sign off significant match funding for the European Social Fund is causing anxieties for our members who are reliant on this funding to provide the key services they do.

"While we acknowledge that the finance and communities ministers have been engaged in ways to resolve the issue, much more needs to be done, and quickly, to give our members the confidence and assurances they need.

"Ahead of the Assembly election, CO3 will be engaging with all parties and candidates to ensure the value of charities is recognised and the sustainability of the sector is prioritised."

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