Dickson Voices Dismay at Funding Shortfall Post-Brexit
East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has voiced his dismay at the Minister for the Economy’s inability to accept his share of responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of Brexit on funding for community schemes.
Mr Dickson asked the Minister for the Economy for his assessment of the recently launched UK Community Renewal Fund, and to detail the Department’s engagement with the UK Government regarding the scheme.
Mr Dickson said: “The response I received from the Minister was truly shocking, and in my eyes, amounted an admission that Brexit has been a complete and utter failure, with various DUP Economy Ministers completely incapable of mitigating its worst effects.
“Mr Lyons began his response by explaining that the EU replacement funding negotiations with the UK Government are led by the Finance Minister, and therefore neither the Department for the Economy, nor the NI Executive, has a formal role in these talks, with knock-on effects for the Department’s spending power.
“What astounds me, is that the DUP led leave-voters in Northern Ireland to believe that exiting the EU would enable them to ‘take back control’ – instead, they are now telling us that there is poor strategic alignment between the UK Government and the NI Executive, and that attempts by subsequent DUP Ministers to rectify this situation with the Secretary of State have fallen on deaf ears.”
Mr Dickson had specifically asked about the Community Renewal Fund announced as part of the Budget 2021, and is being delivered directly by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Mr Dickson said: “The Minister responded to my question by saying that Northern Ireland has been allocated £11m under this programme which falls significantly short of what we would have historically spent on activities funded by the EU Structural Funds. And if that wasn’t enough, because the UK Government department will now be directly delivering the scheme, the Department for the Economy will be taking a back-seat role when it comes to administration.
“It astonishes me that the Minister was able to give such a reply with a straight face whilst still refusing to admit that so far, Brexit has been a complete failure”.