22/04/2024

Minister Commits To Policies With A 'Real And Meaningful Impact'

At the first meeting of the Communities Committee, Minister Gordon Lyons has committed to delivering policies that make a 'real and meaningful impact'.

Whilst acknowledging the scale of the challenge facing all departments in terms of budget, the Minister outlined his ambitions for getting the most from available funds.

The Minister updated the Committee on the broad range of strategies, programmes and services delivered by the Department including social housing and residential building safety; anti-poverty measures; sports infrastructure and participation, social inclusion and employability, culture, heritage and arts and support for the voluntary and community sector.

Speaking during the Committee meeting, Minister Lyons said: "My ambition is to deliver policies and programmes that will have a real and meaningful impact. I want them to be deliverable, I want them to be sustainable and I want to make sure that we provide tangible and lasting benefits for people right across Northern Ireland.
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"In short, I want to help people to improve their lives and wellbeing, and I believe that in this department we have the building blocks for a safe and healthy lifestyle for our people."

Acknowledging the difficult budgetary situation Minister Lyons said: "The budget position remains exceptionally challenging, but this is about doing the best that we can for people and communities within the available funding envelope".

Speaking after his first Committee appearance, the Minister said: "We need to be radical when it comes to housing; that means building more quality, efficient and affordable homes, supporting people to live independently and helping working families.

"I'm also mindful of the need to deliver on the statutory obligations that we have and those, together within an inescapable spend, contributed to about 90% of last year's budget allocation. That doesn't leave much room for manoeuvre, but it won't stifle my ambition.

"It does however mean that we need to look carefully at how every pound is spent and make sure it goes to those who need it most."

The Minister added that he would push for support with Ministerial colleagues: "There are going to be difficult choices to be made, but I can assure people that I will be making the case for the value and importance of all my department does."


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