Budget 2014: Report Outlines Impact on Community & Voluntary Organisations

The dust has begun to settle around Budget 2014, and a picture is emerging of a wide range of cuts that will have a disproportionate impact on community & voluntary organisations and the people they serve. 
 
A new report published by The Wheel, shows that Budget 2014 continues the well-established pattern of protecting basic rates (except for the young) but to reduce important associated social welfare entitlements, which were and are an important aspect of the social welfare safety net. As a result, the budget will continue to have a negative effect on those on the lowest incomes, likely leading to a further acceleration of the already rising poverty rate. 
 
There will also be further cuts to statutory funding for many community and voluntary organisations. The particulars of these cuts will only be known once the detailed and revised estimates are published, but the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has published expenditure allocations for 2014-2016, which does give us some detail. 
 
The single biggest reduction is a 49% cut in spending on Community & Rural Development. This heading in the budget covers, in descending order, the European co-funded LEADER programme; the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP); the European co-funded PEACE programme; and the scheme of funding for national voluntary organisations. It is reasonable to assume that there will continue to be European funding flowing into LEADER and Peace, although we have been led to believe that PEACE funding will be halved in 2014, but this accounts for only €10m of the €97m reduction. We still lack an explanation for this figure, which may suggest the movement of accounts.
 
There are also significant reductions in the areas of Housing, Equality & Integration, and Drugs Initiatives. Housing by voluntary organisations is down from €55.5m to €40.925m (-26%), and municipal housing is down by a similar amount.Funding for Drugs Initiatives has been reduced from €29.951m to €27.951m (-7%). It is important to note that funding in this area has been cut by 37% since 2013. Equality and integration is down 9%. This heading covers the Human Rights and Equality Commission, grants for women’s organizations, Travelers, migrant integration, refugees, charities regulation and disability. Download our report for a full breakdown. 
 
When these reductions are viewed against to the overall budgetary adjustment of -3%, it is clear that the community and voluntary organisations and social initiatives have once again suffered disproportionate cuts. Furthermore, an examination of proposed spending in 2015 and 2016 suggests that worse is yet to come.