Thursday 20 September 2018 05:27:00 PM

County Down RCN Crisis Due To NI Budget Issues
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Nicholas McCrickard, Manager of the County Down Rural Community Network (CDRCN), has said his organisation and many other community organisations and agencies funded through DAERA are facing an impending crisis.

In an appeal for support, he said: “The Department of Finance published a “Briefing on Northern Ireland Budgetary Outlook 2018-20” on 18 December 2017 which closes for public consultation responses on Friday, 26 January 2018.

“The full document can be found on the Department of Finance Website at:

https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/articles/briefing-northern-ireland-budgetary-outlook-2018-20.

County Down RCN manager Nicholas McCrickard, speaking at the AGM last year.

“We urge you to respond to this consultation.

“We, as your local Rural Support Network (RSN) in County Down along with the seven other RSN’s across Northern Ireland have huge concerns with the current proposals that are being made by Government Departments, and the likely cumulative impact that this would have on those community organisations like yourselves.

“We have great concern about the proposal that the Department for Agriculture, Environment and RURAL AFFAIRS (DAERA) will be forced to CEASE ALL FUNDING FOR RURAL AFFAIRS and effectively shut down their work in RURAL AFFAIRS.

“This undoubtedly will result in all funding from DAERA to Rural Community Development support under their Targeting Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme coming to a stop in March and with it the potential closure of rural support network organisations, who provide vital assistance to over 800 community groups and organisations throughout all rural areas.

“This basically means, for example, that hands-on support and indeed the provision of small grants, support around community planning, community funding, action planning, health programmes, community & rural development etc will be terminated in two months’ time.

“There will also be a detrimental impact on the implementation of the Rural Needs Act and the delivery of the Rural Development Programme which is currently bringing investment and jobs to all rural areas.

“Unless the Department hear strong objections from a wide range of rural stakeholders including groups such as yours, there is a real risk that the Rural Affairs work within the Department will cease and our communities will lose community development advice and support at a local level. Rural Transport and many other Rural services may also be greatly diminished.

“We would are asking the many organisations who are members of the CDRCN  and others organisations, agencies, businesses and everyone who will be imp[acted by these changes, to respond to this consultation. 

“Please find attached a draft letter to which we would respectfully ask you to personalise on behalf of your group and either email or post it to the Department of Finance NI before the deadline for submissions on 26 January 2018.

Members of the County Down RCN pictured at their AGM last year. Fears for the voluntary/community sector are growing as the NI budget is failing due to the impasse at Stormont.

“Alternatively, one of our staff members will be contacting local groups and requesting permission to add your groups name and contact to a generic response which we will deliver on behalf of this council area. We hope to provide over 500 community responses by this Friday! You can respond:

“By Email:  budgetbriefing2018@finance-ni.gov.uk

“By Post:     Budgetary Outlook 2018-20, Room S1, Rathgael House, Balloo Road, Bangor  BT19 7NA”

Nicholas McCrickard addes: “Thank you for taking the time to help us and all local rural public services. This is a very serious situation and requires a solid and extraordinary response from our community.”

Email: Nicholas@countydownrcn.com

Website: www.countydownrcn.com