Dear Chief Executive/Chair of Management Committee

I would like to recognise the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across our society and its impact on our children and young people in particular. This has meant adjusting many of our procedures, processes and delivery methods in an extremely short timeframe and I am very thankful for the way in which the youth sector has been to the forefront in making these adjustments and continuing to support those young people who are most vulnerable and those at risk.
The pandemic has already impacted on plans to deliver the policy commitment to replace historic funding arrangement with a new funding scheme from October 2020 with a delay to implementation to 1 April 2021 announced in March with application deadlines postponed until 3 July/28 August 2020.
As we approach these dates, both the Education Authority and I have been approached by youth organisations, in some cases to progress to implementation as quickly as possible and in other cases to further delay implementation.
Having listened to all the arguments, I have agreed to a further short postponement of the application deadlines from 3 July to 3 September 2020 (where applicable) and from 28 August to 30 October 2020 (where applicable) while retaining an implementation date of 1 April 2021.
Given the policy commitment to bring forward a new funding scheme is a longstanding action, I remain firmly committed to implementing the scheme from 1 April 2021.
I would however encourage you to complete and submit your applications in advance of the revised closing dates where it is possible to do so as this will facilitate preparation for the assessment phase.

I recognise that some of you will be disappointed with this delay, having made the effort to
meet the exiting deadlines and others will feel it does not go far enough. I am of the view
that given the mixed views within the youth sector and taking into account the pros and
cons, this is a reasonable compromise and one which will allow implementation of the new
funding scheme to proceed as planned by 1 April 2021
I also recognise that this will increase pressure on completion of the assessment process
and will result in a short delay in notifying you of the outcome of your application.
I know some further concerns regarding the detailed operation of the new funding scheme
have been expressed and I have asked my officials to have further discussions with EA in
relation to these.
In closing I would ask that all your efforts now be directed to meeting these revised
deadlines as we work towards launch on 1 April 2021.
Peter Weir MLA
Minister of Education

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