Banbridge Campaigns Community Constituency Cost of Living Education Government Health Politics Stormont Upper Bann

Abhorrent That Vulnerable Children Are Paying The Price For Lack of Budget and Political Instability, says Tennyson

Alliance Upper Bann MLA, Eóin Tennyson, has said it is abhorrent that vulnerable children and young people in Northern Ireland are paying the price for the lack of a confirmed budget and the DUP’s boycott of Stormont. 

He spoke following news this morning that funding for Healthy Happy Minds, the Engage programme, and the School Holiday Food Grant (SHFG) is being cut by the Education Authority as the Department of Education remains without a budget allocation, forcing them to cease operation. 

The SHFG in particular provides over 100,000 families with grants in place of free school meals over holiday periods. 

Tennyson has said: “It cannot be overstated just how devastating this decision is for our community. 

 “So many children and young people depend on provision for free school dinners.  It can even mean the difference between a child getting a hot meal that day or not. The need for that simply does not end when the holidays begin. The SHFG was vital to bridge that gap. 

 “With the impact of the cost of living crisis still hitting hard, especially for those already in financial hardship, the need for this scheme is even more prevalent. 

“The SHFG, Healthy Happy Minds, and Engage have all played a key role in improving young peoples’ quality of life and their chances for the future.  It is simply not acceptable that all that amazing work is being sacrificed on the pyre of budgetary uncertainty and political dysfunction. 

“Alliance have long since been champions for these schemes and tackling the issues they aim to address and have engaged with the EA and the DoE consistently and robustly in terms of ensuring funding for them. 

“To have been left in this position of indefinite limbo without an Executive, without ministers, and without a budget due to the party-political interests of one party is galling and should not be allowed to continue. 

“Vulnerable children and young people must not be allowed to go hungry or without vital resources and support. We’re urgently calling upon those with the power to do so to do the right thing and get back into Stormont, so a budget can be set and pressing matters like these can be addressed. 


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