Community funding, grants, and investment must be prioritised and protected "as we build a resilient society and economy after Covid-19", especially as the crisis has put the greatest pressure "on our most vulnerable".
This is the view of Social Democrats Galway City East councillor, Owen Hanley, who is calling for measures like the Community Enhancement Programme and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, to be protected from "any local or national budget cuts".
"Equality measures should be protected to ensure against a worsening of inequalities," said Cllr Hanley. "When initiatives aimed at disadvantaged communities are removed they do not return any time soon and cost communities more in the long run."
'Keeping an eye on whether a proposed method of increasing revenue, or programme cut, is likely to increase inequalities, allows a better understanding of the best ways to support the core equality funding we need'
Cllr Hanley said there are concerns that the post-coronavirus recession will be used as an excuse to slash community funding and grants, but, the councillor argues, these are the very grants that require most protection, and which are most important, in the current climate.
Cllr Hanley has called for the Community Enhancement Programme to be protected as it provides local organisations with the capital funding needed to assist small grassroots community projects "get off the ground”, while allowing larger projects “address disadvantage and inequality".
He also wants to see the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, which is rolled out by Galway City Partnership, safeguarded from cuts. "SICAP addresses high and persistent levels of deprivation through targeted and innovative, locally-led approaches," he said. "Even through Covid-19, SICAP programmes have continued to support people through rising education disadvantages."
Cllr Hanley is calling on both local and central government to adopt the 'equity budgeting' approach, where, during the budgeting process, how proposed changes would affect existing inequalities are examined.
"Keeping an eye on whether a proposed method of increasing revenue, or that programme cut, is likely to increase economic, gender, or other inequalities," says Cllr Hanley, "allows everyone involved a better understanding of the best ways to support the core equality funding we need."