A WEST Tyrone MLA has welcomed the announcement by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey of a £1,500 payment being made to voluntary and community organisations to help with inflationary energy costs.#
To help with the rising costs of gas, oil and electricity, the payment has been issued to more than 150 organisations which deliver key services.
Minister Hargey explained: “The rising costs of gas, oil and electricity have been highlighted by voluntary and community organisations as a major issue which may negatively impact on the vital services.
“The unprecedented rise in energy costs has affected these organisations so I am pleased that my department has been able to ease that burden for some."
She added: “Unfortunately, due to constrained budget availability in the absence of a functioning Executive, it has not been possible at this time to provide all voluntary and community funded organisations with a contribution towards energy costs.
"Instead, departments are operating within contingency planning envelopes based on the previous year’s allocations.”
Welcoming the initiative, Sinn Féin's Maolíosa McHugh commented: “I welcome this initiative from Minister Deidre Hargey to financially assist 150 groups in the voluntary and community sectors throughout the North to help with inflationary energy costs.
“Organisations benefitting from the one-off energy payment include groups working with the elderly, homeless, children, women and those which provide advice, employment, wellbeing, education and support services.
“However, the rising costs of gas, oil and electricity is impacting upon the ability of all groups across these sectors to provide their services
“Unfortunately, the Minister due to constrained budget availability in the absence of a functioning Executive has been unable at this time to provide all voluntary and community funded organisations with a contribution towards energy costs.
“Her Department, and that of other Ministers, are being forced to operate within the constraints of the previous year’s budgetary allocation due to the ongoing boycott of the institutions by the DUP.
"Despite this, the Minister has voiced her determination to continue to try and do all in her power to help groups across these sectors through this difficult time."