Charities Experience Disproportionate Cuts In Budget 2012

Community and voluntary organisations have experienced disproportionate cuts in Budget 2012, according to analysis published today by The Wheel.

The analysis reveals that while overall government spending in 2012 is down 2.2%, funding for charities has been cut in excess of 4%, and in several cases up to 40% and 50%.

The Health Service Executive (HSE), the largest single funder of charities providing services in communities, have cut in two related areas: firstly, grants to the four HSE regions, which affects grants to voluntary and community organisations at local level, is down from €7.45bn to €6.57bn, or -12%; secondly grants for voluntary hospitals and other voluntary organisations is down from €2.24bn to €2.14bn, or -4%.

The new Department of Community, Environment and Local Government is a key funder for voluntary and community organisations. Here, funding for ‘community and rural development’ is to be reduced from €165m to €158m, which, at -4%, is almost twice the rate of overall government cuts. Furthermore, funding for the ‘Local and Community Development Programme’ (LCDP) will be €55.3m in 2012, down from €63.3m, or a reduction of -12.6%, six times the level of fall in Government spending.

The Department of Justice & Equality lists a range of cuts, that include Traveller initiatives (-7%); action for gender equality (-17%); services for migrants (-31%); grants for women’s organisations (- 35%); disability awareness (-72%) and several lines that have been extinguished altogether, like disability projects and equality proofing.

Funding for initiatives against drugs was transferred to the Department of Health, where its allocation falls from €33.7m to €31.4m (-7%). These initiatives against drugs have already been substantially reduced since 2008 and by definition these are services, which are offered in the most disadvantaged of communities.

Funding for Overseas Development Aid has been cut by €20 million to €638m. This moves Ireland away from its stated commitment of spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid. The percentage for 2012 will now be 0.5%

The Comprehensive Review of Expenditure provides an additional layer of detail on cuts:

  • In education, savings of €132m, which include reduced funding to schools and programmes, including Youthreach, Community Training Centres, both of which are important to community groups working with disadvantaged young people;
  • In Foreign Affairs, a reduction of €1.9m in support for voluntary and community organisations working for Irish people abroad;
  • In Justice and Equality there is €12m less funding for bodies supported by the Department;
  • In Transport there are reductions of €2m in funding for the Sports Council and €0.9m in the Rural Transport Initiativein the first year and €1m thereafter; 
  • In Children and Youth Affairs, quite a number of reductions are indicated, including a cut to reduction in the State’s flagship anti-poverty initiative, the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP).

The analysis states “the changes imposed by previous budgets have already reversed the modest progress Ireland made in reducing poverty in the early 2000s. The proportions below the poverty line have already risen sharply, 1.7% in a year, even more rapidly than Greece, matched by an increase in child poverty and the level of inequality”.

Commenting on the publication of the report Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel said: “These cuts and the disproportionate way in which they are to be experienced by community and voluntary groups and the people they serve, reveal that there is clearly no vision of the type of society we are working to achieve as we try to emerge from this crisis.”

“Community and voluntary organisations play a critical role in protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and the cumulative impact of these short-sighted decisions will shape our society for decades to come”, said Ms Garvey.

Ms Garvey called on Government to initiate a national discussion on a new vision for Ireland: “There is now an urgent need for a broad-based discussion on where we are heading as a society. There needs to be a sense of positive direction that is based on somewhere we actually want to get to, as opposed to solely having a target based on the reduction of the national deficit and where we don’t want to be. The Wheel and our members and partners in the community and voluntary sector will be engaging with Government to push for the establishment of suitable platforms for such  discussions.”