Cuts put 130 sector jobs in jeopardy

More than 130 voluntary sector jobs are under threat in Northern Ireland because government departments are cutting front-line services instead of meeting targets on efficiency savings, according to the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.

Nicva told a meeting of the province's Department for Social Development last week that statutory bodies were taking the "easy option" of cutting services delivered by sector organisations rather than working to meet agreed savings of 3 per cent in back-office costs such as administration and purchasing.

"The idea is to divert more money into front-line services, but departments are saying ‘we aren't going to make our staff redundant'," said a Nicva spokesman. "But we are the people delivering the services and we are the ones who are supposed to be getting more money, not less."

He said the ending of EU funding streams established to promote peace and reconciliation, on which a number of organisations were heavily reliant, was exacerbating the problem. He added that a survey of Nicva members indicated that 54 organisations were facing the combined loss of 130 jobs.

Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of Nicva, said: "From where I sit, what passes for efficiency savings are often little more than cuts. That is a perverse outcome of the executive's reasonable objective of tackling inefficiency."

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