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Independent advice sector needs financial support to secure survival, says Armstrong

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said the independent advice sector needs financial support to secure its survival.

The Strangford MLA was speaking after the draft Budget from the Department for Communities was shown to MLAs, proposing a £1.5 million reduction in funding for the independent advice sector, with organisation Advice NI saying it would lose dozens of staff as a result.

“As previously stated, this is a devastating Budget for many,” said Ms Armstrong.

“But the independent advice sector would be particularly badly hit. The sector provides vital and necessary services for people, giving independent support for many of those who are in their time of greatest need. The welfare system is complex and convoluted, and not easy to understand. The independent advice sector wades through that policy and paperwork to provide clarity at what is an incredibly stressful time.

“If organisations are not there to give people that service, or have staff numbers and resources reduced, many vulnerable and disadvantaged people will miss out on the help they need and are entitled to.

“I once again encourage the Communities and Finance Ministers to look at this situation urgently and allocate more money to the Department as a whole and the sector in particular, so we can ensure its very survival.”