Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said that Executive Departments should continue to assist groups losing European Social Fund funding as a result of Brexit. With the cliff edge of 31 March looming the party’s economy spokesperson said:
“European Social Fund projects have played a vital role in communities across the north, including supporting vulnerable people into work.
“I have worked with many groups and organisations delivering ESF projects and consistently raised their concerns on the loss of EU funding.
“The British government has failed to honour its commitment to replace lost EU funds in full. The Shared Prosperity Fund falls far short and organisations delivering ESF projects face a cliff-edge at the end of March.
“Sinn Féin will continue to urge the British government to fulfil its commitment on replacing lost EU funding.
“Executive departments previously provided match-funding to ESF projects from their own budgets.
“While the Executive can’t be expected to replace lost ESF funds it can continue to use its match funding for ESF-type activity. This will ensure vital work supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities continues.
“In the immediate term, existing funding from departments should be extended for a year on a pro-rata basis. This period should then be used to develop a longer term scheme.
“While we will encourage permanent secretaries to take this action, ministers in an Executive could make it happen and we continue to urge all parties to get back into the Executive as soon as possible.”