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Mr Robin Swann MLA, has challenged Alliance and DUP Executive Ministers to “stop pussy footing around the issue of biting cuts to the voluntary and community sectors and implement an immediate joint strategy which will stop such austerity measures”.

Mr Swann questioned the DUP Minister if he had any conversations with the Alliance Employment and Learning Minister “in regard to the European social fund and how some in the voluntary and community sector, such as the women’s sector and young people not in employment, education or training, will lose out on funding?”

Responding to Assemblyman Swann, the DUP Minister said: “As Chair of the Committee, he will be well aware that this has become a particular problem.

“We had discussions with some of the organisations that came to see us in the lead-up to us making a decision on the budget. I should have said earlier that I am sorry that it took so long for us to get to the point where we made the announcement, but that came about as a result of a variety of discussions that we had with organisations to give some sense of where they would be post the announcement that we would make.

“I can confirm that we had consultation and discussion with the Minister on the elements of ESF that have ultimately resulted in some organisations having severe difficulties and severe financial problems,” the Social Development Minister told Assemblyman Swann.

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