Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 17:22 UK

Deprived areas promised funding

Broken window in dilapidated house
The schemes provide community services in deprived areas

Funding for deprived areas is not at risk despite fears of community workers, the social development minister has said.

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action said the failure to approve funding for Neighbourhood Renewal schemes was jeopardising jobs.

Minister Margaret Ritchie said there was a budget in place, and it would be spent on areas in need.

"People in Neighbourhood Renewal Areas don't need to worry," she said.

The schemes provide community services in deprived areas across Northern Ireland, but in Belfast many groups are still waiting for funding.

NICVA chief executive Seamus McAleavey said about 150 groups were worried their projects would cease to exist.

"Certainly I'm getting a feeling of crisis because organisations are fearful, they see themselves going to the wall in terms of the services they provide," he said.

Patricia McKeown from public service union Unison said they would be looking for answers.

"This is a scheme that was budgeted for, the money should be available," she said.

"I don't know what's happening inside the department, but the trade union movement has a meeting with government at the highest level next week and this is going to feature as a key item on the agenda.

"It is a double hit, it's vulnerable jobs in vulnerable communities and it's the services inside the community as well."

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