The story about lack of funds to supply meals for senior students at Cedarbridge has quite rightly got all the headlines.
And it is good to see the media going behind the headlines a little to explore what has lead to this – and that, in my opinion, is what should really be the headline.
The efforts to support the Cedarbridge programme are to be loudly applauded. But, it only serves to paper over the cracks. The headlines will go, but the problem will persist.
In a previous life, I wrote of the need to increase the budget for the Community and Cultural Development Ministry. I wrote: “There needs to be a robust, well-funded social strategy.
“Charities and community organisations cannot continue to shoulder the burden and whilst there is no desire for a nanny state, there is an increased need to support those who are suffering hardships and who could easily slip into crime.”
That was written on February 27 last year, yet almost a year later a scheme as fundamental as the one at Cedarbridge has to be bailed out by corporate and individual generosity.
The Minister spoke at a meeting last year where he was quoted as saying: “The Social Recovery programme will tackle the root causes of poverty, rather than just throwing money around and announcing that our problems have been solved.
“The resources the former Government pumped in simply didn’t work effectively because money is a means rather than an end. Cheques don’t solve problems — people solve problems.”
My politics have always been left of centre – although as I get older I find myself becoming more centrist. I do believe that there are times when a Government should be heavily involved in social schemes, while there is a need, and that the taxpayer will have to fund it, if necessary.
It is for the greater social good. Whilst creating new jobs is also for the greater good, that will take longer and by the time, or if, it happens, it will be too late for many, they will have been lost as useful members of society. They will have slipped through gaping holes in the social safety net.
The February 27 date is significant. It was the day after last year’s Budget. We know money is extremely tight, we know that we are still battling a recession. There is great pressure on financial assistance.
Notwithstanding that, it is a crime that the good people behind the scheme at Cedarbridge are forced to effectively hand out a begging bowl to help our young people.