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Disproportionate funding by Department of Social Development challenged

4 April, 2007


Sinn Féin Equality spokesperson and MLA Martina Anderson reacting to Social Development Minister David Hanson MP plans to support the work of the Community Convention Development Company (CCDC) which works in protestant communities has said that the constant drip-feed of announcements and decisions that have not been properly equality proofed has to stop.

Ms Anderson said:

"The 'flexibility of approach' that the Department of Social Development (DSD) seems to be able to operate when it is dealing with protestant communities under the fig leaf of weak community infrastructure contrasts with its rulebook bound application of bureaucratic procedures in its dealings elsewhere. It is this inconsistency that the NI Audit office has already criticised.

"One year ago in the case of the £98,000 allocated to the Fernhill Shankill project it found 'its application for funding did not follow standard internal procedures - no application form was received or pro forma economic appraisal conducted' and the audit office went on to conclude 'DSD's assessment of the application did not conform to the minimum requirements for an economic appraisal required by DFP nor did it satisfy DSD's own requirements'. This is the same principle that underlies the targeting of resources not by need but want.

"It is a mistake to abandon the fundamental principles of New Targeting Social Need and Equality and objective demonstrable need. The constant drip-feed of announcements and decisions that have not been properly equality proofed has to stop.

"No one disputes that there is serious poverty within unionist communities. However, study after study continues to show that nationalists still suffer disproportionately whether in the fields of unemployment, low income or child poverty. I believe that the only effective way to tackle poverty is on the basis of objective need and that political decisions by civil service mandarins, for example within DSD, only serve to undermine progress." ENDS

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