Page last updated at 18:46 GMT, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Neighbourhood Renewal

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood told the Assembly he was committed to continuing the Neighbourhood Renewal programme subject to funding being available, on 30 November 2010.

The programme offers services such as childcare, health and education schemes in deprived communities.

Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady proposed the motion calling on the minster to secure funding for Neighbourhood Renewal beyond March 2011.

He acknowledged that Mr Attwood had agreed to continue the programme when responding to a previous question by party colleague Carál Ní Chuilin.

Mr Brady said many questions remained unanswered, such as the amount of funding that would be secured.

Roy Beggs moved a UUP amendment. He wanted to see funding confirmed and said all public expenditure was in a state of uncertainty until the budget was finalised.

Alliance's Anna Lo said the lack of agreement on a budget was causing great anxiety to those awaiting decisions on funding.

The DUP's Simon Hamilton chairs the social development committee.

He outlined Neighbourhood Renewal's success in tackling problems such as income deprivation, vacant housing, high crime rates and low life expectancy.

Mr Attwood said he was committed to neighbourhood renewal but it would be subject to more collaboration, shared services, a deepening of inter-departmental working and opportunities to merge organisations.

He said that, subject to the budget, he would guarantee that those Neighbourhood Renewal projects that were working best would receive funding.

Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd and John McCallister of the UUP commended the positive tone of the debate.

The motion was passed as amended.

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