Social Development Minister Alex Attwood today published his Department's Draft Budget.
The Minister emphasised his commitment to protecting the vulnerable in society, bringing divided communities together, providing access to decent, affordable homes and creating sustainable urban centres.
In outlining his next steps the Minister said:"At the Executive I supported consultation on the budget, but did not endorse it. As such, this is still a draft budget. I will be hosting half a dozen key events around Northern Ireland consulting with people, listening to them and building up the argument to ensure I achieve the best budget outcome going forward and for all those in need.
"But let's be clear, I will be putting my money where my mouth is with regard to protecting persons and families in need. Budgets will be protected for vital programmes which address households in need, including revenue and capital programmes to address fuel poverty (Warm Homes), supported housing vulnerable people, and disadvantaged communities (Neighbourhood Renewal).
"But I will also be tough minded around the Department. I will be ensuring reductions in administration expenditure, such as consultancy, travel, corporate services, and identify opportunities for sharing services and thereby reduce costs which do not impact on the delivery of services to the public. In all of this, redesigning delivery models in social security and child maintenance to improve levels of customer service remain a longer term objective. "
In a commitment to protecting jobs Alex Attwood said: "Although it is clear that the proposed budget settlement presents many challenges for the Department and organisations we support, I believe that the proposed settlement should not lead to staff redundancies in the Department, the Social Security Agency and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division - the proposed additional resources detailed in the Draft will create posts and any necessary staff adjustments can be handled by normal turnover.
Notes to editors:
- In advance of Minister Attwood briefing the Social Development Committee on Thursday morning, further significant further details on each of the budget headings that will confirm how it is planned to protect those in need and the further negotiations needed will be published.
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