4,500 community and voluntary sector jobs at risk

The Irish Examiner has reported on the funding crisis brewing in the community and voluntary sector. It claims that €80 million in direct state support to be removed from the sector this year.

The paper says the cuts could result in at least 4,500 job losses and it is estimated many more millions of euro to be channelled into the sectors by the HSE will also be lost.

The cuts include €6m from schemes dealing with educational disadvantage; a 70% drop in funding for sports in disadvantaged areas (from €1m); over €30m taken from childcare programmes and the funding of the RAPID scheme for development of urban areas with socioeconomic problems cut by a quarter.

The HSE has failed to release data on specific cuts.

The cuts are leading to job losses but Government funding agency Pobal is refusing to engage with the state’s industrial relations machinery concerning redundancies.

Links of leading figures in community sector funding bodies to Fianna Fáil have led to accusations of a politically motivated approach.

Community Minister Pat Carey, whose department’s funding for schemes will be cut by €27m this year, emphasised the "serious efforts to tackle poverty and disadvantage through partnership with all stakeholders".

"In these challenging times we will continue to back dynamic groups and individuals in our society as they develop new and imaginative ways of addressing the difficulties experienced in communities," he said.

However, social researcher Brain Harvey, who estimates the cuts will result in at least 4,500 job losses, believes the Government is targeting the community and voluntary sector more than others.

"The headline figure for the reduction of funding in the voluntary and community sector is in the range of 9% to 10% during 2010. This figure contrasts with the national budgetary cut of only 1.8%," he said.

"The view that the voluntary and community sector has been identified for disproportionate attention in cuts is not a polemic, but a factual observation."

The original story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, June 28, 2010