SIPTU which represents Local Development Company (LDC) workers across the country has welcomed the findings of the mid-term review of the Local and Community Development programme. The report, undertaken by the Centre for Effective Services, (CES) was published on 25th October by the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government on its website. The review finds that the LCDP “has exceeded its targets in areas that continue to be a high priority for Government including education, training and employment.” The CES Review also states that “even though targets have been consistently exceeded, the downward shift in the budget is a major challenge for programme delivery.”The LCDP as delivered by LDCs is the only social inclusion program in the state and has had its budget reduced by 42% since 2008 from €84.7 million to €48.8 million in 2013, with a further cut of €1 million announced in the recent budget.The review also identifies the ability of LDCs to leverage funding. For example, in 2012 the leveraged figure of €99 million is more than double the budget for LDCs. The work of LDCs in bringing together different stakeholders, ensuring effective coordination and policy adaptation has also been internationally recognised. (OECD Conference 2012)SIPTU LDC workers have been campaigning for the past ten months to establish a meaningful process of engagement with Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, and his department on the implications of the alignment process on workers. SIPTU LDC Activist Manus Bree said: “The positive findings of the review of the LCDP program demonstrates the vital work being carried out by LDC workers with communities all over the country. We deserve to be treated with respect and we are therefore calling on the Minister and his department to engage in meaningful discussions with SIPTU.“Although there was a meeting between Department, community and local government officials and workers’ representatives on Tuesday, 24th September, no commitment was given that there would be real engagement with workers on issues of vital concern. All workers want is to have their voices heard.”