DAERA fails to bid for additional industry funding
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has expressed serious concern at the failure of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to bid for any additional funding in the June monitoring round.
Speaking in the Assembly earlier this week, he said:“I want to express my disappointment that DAERA has not bid for any money in the June monitoring round.
“That is made even worse given that £29.7 million of capital funding has been unallocated and we are contending with a loss of £34 million from our rural development budget as a consequence of Brexit.
“I look at other Departments, such as the Department for Communities, which has bid successfully for work that is similar to that carried out by DAERA. They bid for £1.7 million for climate change funding, yet DAERA bid for nothing.”
McAleer continued: “DAERA’s failure to make any bids even though £29.7 million capital funding is still unallocated brings in question that department’s ability to forward plan and meet needs in rural areas.
“During the budget debate in recent weeks, I publicly called on the DAERA Minister to bid for additional funds for a rural basic services scheme. There is an abundance of community organisations which have ‘shovel ready’ projects to improve health and well-being in rural areas but they need the DAERA Minister to support them.”
According to the Co Tyrone assembly member, he has raised the issue of additional funding repeatedly at Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) committee meetings; during the recent budget debate and in January of this year when DAERA also failed to bid for any of the additional £200 million announced by the Finance Minister.
McAleer concluded:“Given what communities have recently come through with Brexit and COVID, I find it extremely frustrating that DAERA has not identified any need for additional funding, despite the funding being available.
“This will result in lost opportunities for rural dwellers and I feel very strongly that communities are being let down in this regard. I will be raising this issue again at the AERA committee this week.”