Speaking as he presented his response to the Government consultation on Northern Ireland’s Draft Priorities and Budget 2005-2008 Mr Williams said the proposed budget will lead to cuts in children’s services.
“I am particularly concerned that in the month the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister launched their draft children and young people strategy this budget will have a detrimental effect on services for the most vulnerable in our society,” he said.
“While Government has been trying to build services for children and young people, and organisations have been working with departments to establish quality services, this budget could damage the vision of improving the lives of children and young people and their families.”
In the Commissioner’s response to the budget consultation he expressed concern over several areas including the proposed ending of the Children’s Fund within three years.
“My concern is heightened by the fact that many of the innovative and creative projects supported by the Children’s Fund are directed to those children and young people in greatest need,” said Mr Williams. “These projects are targeted largely where poverty is blighting the lives and future potential of children and young people.”
The Commissioner also expressed concern that at a time when potential cutbacks were being mooted in education and library board services the Government should provide a lead in making sure that children and young people were not affected..
Mr Williams called for dedicated funding for services for children and young people, and specific funding to implement the Government’s own draft Children and Young People Strategy and draft Youth Work Strategy.
“It is worrying that at a time when Government departments are producing such innovative proposals for helping children and young people in Northern Ireland develop their potential and overcome the barriers of poverty that this proposed budget could damage these services before the first decade of the 21st century ends.”
Notes for Editors
A copy of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People’s response to the Draft Priorities and Budget 2005-2008 is available below:
Jonathan Traynor , Media and Public Affairs Officer
Tel: 02890 311616
Fax: 02890 314545
Mob/out of hours: 07973 422583