Monday March 2nd: Unite Equalities Officer, Taryn Trainor, called on the urgent intervention of Minister Stephen Farry to resolve problems around the allocation of funding to community/ voluntary groups under the current European Social Fund programme.
“Fifty organisations have been told that their applications for funding under the European Social Fund were rejected. Of these, 43 groups are now appealing this decision. In most cases their applications were rejected on grounds of a technical misunderstanding about what was required under an ambiguous requirement that ‘management accounts’ be submitted alongside their applications.
“Aside from this lack of clarity in the application process, Unite is even more concerned about claims on the differential treatment of applicants in the aftermath of their applications being submitted.
“An appeal submitted by one group indicates that at least three competitors were contacted by the Department after submitting their application letting them know that it was inadequate and encouraging them to provide further information. This is clearly unfair given that other applicants were not afforded the benefit of this advice. It is critical that Minister Farry must now intervene to ensure a fair playing field for all applicant groups.
“Unite is already in negotiations with management at Include Youth, Bytes and Extern which, as a result of their exclusion from this tranche of funding, have been forced to give their staff notice of redundancy.
“The loss of ESF funding is a double-whammy to many community and voluntary organisations as they used this money to match-fund alternative sources of income. This hammer blow will mean that vital services for the most vulnerable in our society are threatened. Instead of administering a programme funded by Europe in such an exclusionary manner, Unite considers that the Minister should strive to maximise the funding obtained by local groups from European sources”, Ms Trainor concluded.