Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has hit out after obtaining further evidence that so-called ‘additional’ funding to tackle severe deprivation is in fact being used to cover budget cuts.
The Foyle MLA was commenting after receiving confirmation that significant amounts of the £20m, billed as additional anti-deprivation spending within the DUP’s Confidence and Supply agreement with the tories, has in fact been used to plug budget holes.
“Most Department budgets were cut in real terms by the Tory/DUP budget so we always had concerns that the Confidence and Supply money would in fact be used to mitigate these same cuts,” she said.
“We have already established that the agriculture department received £1.8m from the £20m for its Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) scheme. But rather than being additional, the budget for TRPSI remained flat at £4m in both 2017/18 and 2018/19.
“Now we have learned that £16.5m from the £20m went to five programmes in the Department of Education. However, only one of those programmes – Sure Start – actually saw an increased budget so again this money is not being used as an additional spend. It is simply being used to fill budget gaps created by the Tory-DUP cuts.
“From the information we have received so far only £0.6m of the £20m for severe deprivation is actually additional. The rest is being used to cover for cuts imposed by the Tory/DUP budget. If the DUP really want to tackle severe deprivation they should stop propping up a Tory government still wedded to austerity.”