Claire Sugden MLA has expressed her concern that Minister for Social Development may be “stalling” on the future of Neighbourhood Renewal Projects in the Coleraine and Limavady areas.
Speaking about the matter in the Assembly, MLA Sugden said: “I am concerned that the Minister is stalling on the future of Neighbourhood Renewal Projects in the Coleraine and Limavady areas. He needs to let groups know if they will receive funding so that they can plan ahead for 2016/2017.
In an answer to my written question this week the Minister told me that he was still considering his Department’s budget. Neighbourhood renewal projects are vital in meeting the needs of local communities through tackling disadvantage in deprived areas. I have visited groups in both Coleraine and Limavady whose projects have brought communities together. This work must be supported to continue.
Last year groups were in a similar situation of projects being left in limbo, unsure if they would continue. Now they face the same anxious wait. This is not good enough.
The Government are retaining regeneration powers and should have planned ahead. Typically, there is no strategic pathway for the Community and Voluntary Sector and projects are left at a cliff edge.
Gaps in funding are an ongoing problem facing the sector. It only receives short term, stop-start funding so projects like those funded under Neighbourhood Renewal are unable to plan ahead. Since becoming an MLA I have worked with groups to lobby the Government for greater stability. It’s time they were given credit for their work.
Staff on Neighbourhood Renewal Projects need to know whether they will have jobs after April, and projects whether they can continue. Families and communities are being impacted by the lack of a decision. I urge the Minister to do the right thing and enable these valued projects to keep going.”