Alliance South Belfast MLA, Anna Lo, has welcomed information that OFMDFM will fund £1.1million for the Minority Ethnic Development Fund for the 2015/16 financial year; however she expressed her concern at the delay in finalising the details. The current funding stream is due to end on 31st March, but how the next round of the fund is going to be delivered has not been decided.
Anna Lo MLA said: “I welcome the decision to maintain the same level of funding for the Ethnic Minority Development Fund; however it is extremely alarming that OFMDFM have yet again taken far too long to come forward with details on how the Minority Ethnic Development Fund will be delivered. The current programme is due to end in six weeks and all the organisations sponsored need to know if they are being funded for the next year. The department has indicated that they would need to go through a number of procedures to run and monitor the fund before they were in a position to advertise for applications. This will take months. The risk is that if there is a delay between funding streams, organisations will be forced to make redundancies or close down. I cannot understand why all the organisations currently funded by this programme cannot have their funding extended for another year in order to ensure continuity of the service provision from these organisations.
“This is a very valuable funding programme and ethnic minority organisations are dependent on it. There have previously been problems over the renewal of this fund but OFMDFM’s Race Unit seem not to have learnt anything from the difficulties in the previous rounds. Whilst groups have been told there will be a fund for 2015/2016, there are no details as to how this fund will be accessed.
“I urge OFMDFM to urgently publish details in order to put the minds of those involved at ease. I tabled a priority written question to their Department six weeks ago asking when these details would be published, and despite being required to provide an answer within days, they have not yet responded. This is unacceptable and it is extremely important they provide these organisations with the information they require as soon as possible.”