THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, today pledged to examine closely the impact of Government spending plans on services for children and young people.
The Government’s Revised Priorities and Budget 2005-2008 contains details of planned spending by Government departments.
Mr Williams said he will discuss key areas of the plans with the Minister with responsibility for the budget within the next fortnight.
The Commissioner, while welcoming elements of the budget, expressed concern over key issues such as the Children’s Fund and the planned 10-year Children and Young People Strategy.
“Early in the New Year I will be meeting with the Minister, Mr Pearson MP, to discuss the impact of this budget,” he said.
“New proposals such as the Capital Modernisation Fund, which children’s groups can apply to, are to be welcomed. However, like many, I am concerned at the potential damage to services for children and young people when the Children’s Fund ends.
“Equally, while I note the commitment to develop the Children and Young People strategy through mainstream services, I wish to explore the detail of this with the minister.”
Mr Williams said that because services to children and young people were delivered across several key government departments he will be examining the detail within the revised budget closely to assess potential impact.
“It is clear from the responses to my SHOUT consultation on my draft priorities that there are many areas where children and young people want to see services improved,” he said. “When I meet the Minister I will be bringing with me some of the views of children and young people about the services they receive and the way they are treated.”
Mr Williams consultation on his draft priorities for the next three years, SHOUT!, ends on 14th January 2004, and more than 600 responses have already been received. Further responses to the Commissioner’s consultation can be made via www.niccy.org/shout.
Details of NICCY’s response to the Draft Priorities and Budget 2004 can be found atwww.niccy.org/uploaded_docs/PrioritiesAndBudget.pdf
Further details on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found on www.niccy.org
Jonathan Traynor, Media and Public Affairs Officer
Tel: 02890 311616
Fax: 02890 314545
Mob/out of hours: 07973 422583