Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that her Department will provide match funding for 2022/23 to European Social Fund (ESF) projects who currently deliver services on behalf of her Department.
The ESF projects aim to help and support people most removed from the labour market to overcome major barriers to social inclusion and entering employment. The pandemic has amplified many aspects of social exclusion, with the need to fund the projects providing support to vulnerable people, being more critical now than ever.
Minister Hargey said: “My Department currently provides match funding of £1.5m to 18 ESF projects which support approximately 3,900 participants annually. These groups provide absolutely critical services to help and support people, including people with disabilities, back into work.
“The absence of an agreed budget created real uncertainty for these groups for the year ahead, with some reporting that they would be unable to survive without the ESF matched funding they receive.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that my Department will continue to provide the £1.5m matched funding to existing ESF projects for 2022/23. This announcement will help provide some certainty and security for these groups and enable them to continue providing their critical services.”
Commenting on this announcement Finance Minister, Conor Murphy said: “Last week I met with representatives from the community and voluntary sector and was keen to do all in my power to provide these groups with the certainty they needed in the absence of an Executive and agreed Budget.
“Having written to Ministerial colleagues on this issue, I welcome confirmation from the Communities Minister that she will provide these groups with match funding.
“These community and voluntary organisations help thousands of vulnerable people into employment and are a key government partner. I’m pleased they’ve been provided with assurances which will enable them to plan and maintain the vital services they provide.”