Charity Sector: COVID-19 Support

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 7th December 2020.

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Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton DUP 3:15 pm, 7th December 2020

8. Mr Newton asked the Minister for Communities how she intends to support the charity sector through the COVID-19 pandemic. (AQO 1279/17-22)

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

[Long Pause.]

Sorry about this; we are flying through these questions.

Our local charity sector is vital to us as a community, especially now. I know that charities have been struggling financially because fundraising is down. In June of this year, I put £15·5 million into the charity fund, and I am pleased to say that 501 successful applicants received a total of £8·8 million. I am acutely aware that charities still face significant financial challenges, and I am working on making an announcement shortly on a further phase of funding to support them.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton DUP

The Minister will know that, although the number of charities that she quoted have been supported, quite a number have not. It seems that there are charities that, even though they are independent in Northern Ireland, because they operate nationally and the national body has reserves, the local body is perceived to be ruled out of getting funding from the Department for Communities. Will the Minister look at the situation so that local bodies that are tied to national bodies are eligible for funding from the support that she has on offer?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I am sorry to hear that, because having reserves does not exclude any charity from applying to this fund. If the Member has any examples, I will be happy to receive them. This is about how people try to raise money here for charitable purposes and to provide good outcomes for people. Charity fundraising has been greatly inhibited, almost to the point where it has ceased, so I would be really disappointed, particularly given the work that people are doing on our behalf, if they did not get any support at all.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

We now move on to topical questions.