13 Oct 2007

NICCY expresses concern at budget

GOVERNMENT needs to re-think its budget plans to make sure children and young people do not suffer further reduced services, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley said today.

Ms Lewsley said that the Programme for Government and Budget published by the Northern Ireland Executive contains too little emphasis on children’s services and contains plans that might see them further eroded.

“In July I published a report showing that we here in Northern Ireland spend £226 less per child on personal social services than in Scotland,” she said. “I will be examining the Programme for Government and Budget very closely to see how the Government intends to reverse this situation.”

“The Executive has a target of reducing child poverty by 50% by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020. This can only be done with the right level of resources.

The Commissioner also expressed concern about the ending of the Children and Young People’s Funding Package.

“This package provided an important way to improve children’s lives,” she said. “If this money is to be put back into government department’s budgets, the departments must be made accountable for delivering those services.”

The Commissioner said she will be responding to the Programme for Government and Budget after she has examined fully the detail in the documents.

“There are some policy areas that are to be welcomed in the budget such as investment in schools, and commitments to tackle social inequalities and educational achievement.

“I fear, however, that the situation after this budget is implemented will remain as it was in July with children being short changed by Government.”