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Concern as Budget leaves some community charities out in the cold

Families campaigner Martha Dismont called on Government to empower the community after seeing many charities miss out on Budget funding.

Sandys 360 was awarded $2 million in last Friday’s Budget to help pay for refurbishments, after Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox noted it reflects community values.

But Ms Dismont said other initiatives were also in need of help.

“Many agencies on the Island are currently holding up a significant portion of the vulnerable in this society,” she said.

“These agencies have spent years refining their mission, expertise, and strengthening their capacity through continuous training.

“While it is heartening that Sandys 360 has been granted a significant amount of funding for its very important programmes in the west end, other agencies providing critical services also need similar support.

“Some of the $2 million granted to Sandys 360 could have supported programmes like Adult Education, which is overrun with referrals and need, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters, and many other needed prevention programmes.”

Ms Dismont applauded Ms Cox for pledging to focus on the needs of youths, seniors and the unemployed. But she warned: “Our challenge, as a country, has never been in desiring to do the right thing; our challenge has been in the execution of ‘doing the right thing’.

“It has yet to be confirmed, but it appears in this Budget that Government has chosen to take on the bulk of the services that are required to strengthen the society, instead of providing funding to strengthen the capacity of those non-Government agencies who are seeking to do the work and are in a better position to do the work cost effectively.

“There are clearly some services that Government can do better and should provide. There are many services that should be provided by the non-Government sector as a cost-saving measure.

“It typically takes three times the resource to establish a Government run entity than it would to operate an efficient and well structured non-profit.

“All due respect to the intentions of the good people serving Government initiatives, however this Budget presents a tone of ‘we’ve got this’. This tone invites the Country to rely on Government to solve our Country’s urgent social needs. It is not a healthy model, and it is very expensive.

“The community needs empowerment. If Government is not satisfied with the quality of what exists in the non-Government sector to address the increasing social needs of our Country, then funding should be provided to strengthen agencies to achieve better outcomes.

“By doing this, we will reduce the duplication of services which currently exists between Government and non-Government agencies, eliminate the sense of competition that exists between the sectors, hold public and non-Government agencies accountable to a single standard of excellence, and save millions of dollars.

“With this improved model, private donors can continue to partner with Government to fund agencies meeting high standards. With a public-private partnership at a funding and service level, Bermuda would have an efficient continuum of care that would be sustainable and would not promote dependence on Government.

“Government is to be applauded for its efforts and commitment to solving our Country’s urgent social crisis. We need to work together to strengthen our existing resources to achieve the effective outcomes that we desire.”

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To hear further reaction from public figures to the Budget, read the expanded story online at www.royalgazette.com

Martha Dismont

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Published February 27, 2012 at 8:57 am (Updated February 27, 2012 at 8:57 am)

Concern as Budget leaves some community charities out in the cold

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