€4m cuts to drug and alcohol task forces youth fund described as "inexplicable"

By Maurice Garvey

DRUGS and alcohol task forces have experienced a “inexplicable” reduction in a youth fund worth €4million over the past four years, according to Fianna Fáil TD John Curran.

The Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) assisted youth initiatives at 14 local drugs task force areas, 12 of which are located in Dublin, including Clondalkin, Tallaght, Ballyfermot, Inchicore and Crumlin.

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Deputy Curran said the reduction in the fund has still “not been restored to 2011 figures” despite it’s importance for “at risk youths living in disadvantaged areas.”

According to the Education Training Board website, new applications for the fund are not being accepted “due to budgetary constraints.”

Whilst the cut in YPFSF funding equates to an average of €285k per group, Sandra Mullen, Coordinator with Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (CDATF), says groups have been impacted by numerous “stealth cuts across the board.”

“The impact to all these cuts across the board is access to services,” said Ms Mullen.

“There are different mechanisms for funding. It doesn’t come through us. We have an input, but it’s presented as if we get it (directly).”

Drugs and alcohol task forces have raised concerns over the last eight years about the complex changes in how funding is distributed.

This has led to reduced budgets and decision making moving away from the those working at grassroots level, to state departments.

In 2015, the convoluted Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) was rolled out – forcing community groups to tender under punitive Private Public Partnership requirements amid fears surrounding job losses and curtailed services.

Deputy Curran has called on the fund to be restored “back to 2011 levels” to assist more “young people in need of support by offering increased services.”

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