Children In Northern Ireland Welcome NICCY Research

Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI), the regional umbrella body for the children’s sector in Northern Ireland, has welcomed today’s publication of NICCY’s (NI Commissioner for Children and Young People) research “Spending on Children in Northern Ireland”.

Discussing the NICCY research on spend and the Comprehensive Spending Review, Pauline Leeson, Director of Children in Northern Ireland said: “We note with concern NICCY’s findings which show the significant disparity in personal social services funding for local children and young people compared with personal social services funding for children and young people across GB.  

“The expenditure per child on personal social services in Northern Ireland is £287. In Scotland it is £513; in Wales £429.10; and in England it is £402. NICCY’s findings are all the more alarming given that the Executive and Assembly have not yet confirmed the future of the Children and Young People’s Funding Package beyond 2008.

“CiNI is aware of the extremely positive benefits that children and young people are already experiencing as a result of the action and activities funded through the Package.  CiNI calls on the Executive and Assembly to ensure that all of the monies within the current Funding Package are protected and go directly to frontline services for children, young people and their families.  Furthermore, if these service initiatives are to bring about real and lasting positive change to the lives of our most vulnerable children and young people these must be sustained in the long-term.”

“Late last year the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain further demonstrated the commitment of the direct rule administration to children and young people when he outlined that the priorities for NI’s 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) were children and young people; anti-poverty and social exclusion; sustainable development; and a shared future.”

“CiNI is concerned that as yet the Executive and Assembly have failed to confirm that they will carry forward these priority areas and progress them within the context of the CSR.  We are unaware of any evidence which would suggest that these priorities, announced just over six months ago, are no longer relevant or appropriate.  In fact the priority accorded to children and young people is now even more pressing with investment in the development of parenting and family support services at a standstill.”

“CiNI has been heartened by today’s statement by the Deputy First Minister that junior Ministers will be responsible for children and young people’s issues and that they will oversee the implementation of the 10 Year Strategy for Children and Young People.  Also to be welcomed are recent statements made by the Minister for Health Michael McGimpsey in which he stated that children and young people would be at the centre of all his future planning and that improving services for children and families would be one of his top priorities.”

“The entire Executive must now make a commitment to placing children and young people at the centre of future planning and their forthcoming Programme for Government.”

“CiNI now calls on the Executive to provide a cross-cutting response to the NICCY research on spend by unequivocally affirming their commitment to children and young people and anti-poverty remaining a priority in the ongoing CSR and evidencing this immediately with confirmation of a robust role and remit for the junior Ministers for Children.”