SIPTU Community Sector activists handed in a pre-budget submission today, (Wednesday, 4th September) to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, calling for the protection of services provided by Local Development Companies (LDCs). The SIPTU document calls for the funding of LDCs to be maintained at effective levels, the retention of a community led approach, which assists in the securing of additional EU funding, and the extension of all LEADER contracts until the next EU funding period beginning next year. SIPTU LDC National Committee chairperson, Manus Bree, said: “The budget for the LDC Programme has been slashed by 42% since 2008 from €84.7 million to €48.8 million this year. No other sector has suffered cutbacks on this scale. The cuts have been disproportionate in the extreme and have hit the most vulnerable people in our communities’ right across the State. We are standing up for the good jobs and services that our communities need, it’s high time that this Government did the same.” Community workers are also calling for a forum to be established, involving the Department of the Environment and SIPTU, to address industrial relations issues arising from proposals to align LDCs with Local Authorities. SIPTU Organiser, Shonagh Byrne, said: “The alignment proposals create major uncertainty with regard to future funding, job security and control of LDC services. We are calling for safeguards for LDC employees in order to protect jobs and retain local expertise. We are also calling for negotiations to begin to establish national pay scales for LDC and LEADER employees.” In 2012, 50 LDCs provided education and training supports to 47,792 persons mainly from disadvantaged communities. Of these, 1,370 were supported into employment and 5,684 were supported into self-employment. LDCs leveraged nearly €100 million in additional funding from statutory and philanthropic sources during this period. In 2012, 563 full-time jobs were created and 1,339 enterprises were assisted under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER). During the same period, a total of 653 tourism actions, and 1056 village/community enhancements also took place under the programme. For further information contact: SIPTU LDC Committee chairman, Manus Bree: 086 385 4250 SIPTU Organiser, Shonagh Byrne: 087 745 4581