The Irish government has slashed funding for emigrant support organizations in the United Kingdom. The number of Irish moving there is at the highest level since 1996.

Michael Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that last year 140 emigrant support organizations in the U.K. received funding last year. However the recent cuts in funding have raised concerns that those attempting to escape the recession in Ireland will not receive the support they need in the U.K.

Figures released in 2009 revealed that the amount of funding to these organizations decreased by nearly $2 million to $11.25 million.

Martin said that these cuts were “regrettable” and announced that the wider Irish emigrant support program run by the government would also undergo cuts this year which would bring the fund to $17 million which is a drop of 14 percent.

He said “This includes outreach to the elderly, and information and advisory services which enable Irish emigrants to access local statutory entitlements.

"Due to the increased budgetary pressure currently being felt across departments, the budget allocation for the program in 2010 has seen a decrease of 14%, to just under €13m."

The Labour Party’s spokesperson on the environment, Joanna Tuffy, who raised the subject in parliament, pointed out that Central Statistics Office estimated that the number of people moving to the U.K. increased to 10,900 last year. These are the highest figures since 1996.

She said “These people are going to have the same issues, the same vulnerabilities in many cases as previous generations, and they need support.”