Department for Communities Budget for 2023/24 - Opportunity to respond to Departmental Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA)
Published 16 May 2023
The Department for Communities (DfC), the funding department for Libraries NI, has announced high level budget information in response to the Northern Ireland Budget 2023/24. This details the considerable shortfall in resource funding available to the department to support day to day spending and funding for the delivery of public services with key points to note as follows:
- DfC was allocated a resource budget of £861.6 million leaving a funding gap of some £111 million, or 15.5% less than what is required to support service delivery and day-to-day spending
- The Department’s capital budget for 2023/24 comprises an allocation of £216.1 million and is some £59 million, or 27% short of the requirement notified to the Department of Finance in January 2023.
Given the extent of the funding gap and the need to consider potential cuts, the Department has launched an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) consultation including a report which sets out their initial assessment of the Draft Budget including the possible impact of a 5% reduction for Libraries NI on the delivery of the public library service and on the wide range of people who use library services. The EQIA report highlights that 86% of Libraries NI’s budget goes directly to funding frontline services emphasising that any reduction in funding will impact services, directly affecting customers including some of the most vulnerable members in society.
Although the final Libraries NI budget allocation for 2023/24 is yet to be confirmed it is clear that there will be significant financial challenges in the coming months and measures have already been taken to control expenditure whilst plans are underway for the outcome of the final budget allocation and possible further cost saving requirements.
As the departmental EQIA will inform its decision making, Libraries NI is encouraging customers, stakeholders and partner organisations to engage with the consultation and put forward their views. The consultation from the Department for Communities can be located at the following link:
The Department is welcoming comments on the document and they are encouraging interested parties to make email, online or postal responses by 7 June 2023, which will be used to inform the Department’s allocation of 2023-24 funds. Any further consultation responses received between 7 June 2023 to 19 July 2023 will be used to inform further mitigation measures and reallocation of any additional funding available during 2023-24.