2018: A review of Key Developments

Posted on
24 Jan 2019
by Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy

There were a number of significant developments in 2018 affecting charities, community, voluntary organisations social enterprises.

Here is a brief overview:

  • There was a small increase in public trust and confidence.  But public trust and confidence in charities, and indeed in all things institutional (such as government, politics, the churches, banks, the media, and the legal system) remains historically low. So demonstrating highest governance standards remains an imperative for the sector (and all institutions for that matter!).
  • The VAT compensation scheme for charities was commenced – a very welcome development that shows that Government is supportive of the work of charities
  • The Charities Regulator published a powerful report on the social and economic impact of charities in Ireland today – providing a basis to raise the profile of this “unseen and unheard” sector of Irish life
  • A new governance code was introduced by the Charities Regulator – which brings clarity to what is expected of charities and is a very welcome development
  • The Slaintecare office was established and has commenced setting out a framework for an ambitious attempt at reforming our health and social-care services, and the role that community-based voluntary organisations play in services.
  • The Independent Review Group on the Role of Voluntary Providers in Health and Personal Social Services conducted its work. Publication of its report – which will presumably inform the roll out of Slaintecare as it relates to the role of voluntary providers - is expected soon. It is hoped that the report will recognise and value the immense contribution made to services by voluntary organisations and that it will make positive recommendations to maximise this contribution while bringing more coherence and consistency to services.
  • The HSE conducted a review of the funding of the fifty largest HSE-funded Section 39 voluntary organisations and proposed a settlement to address outstanding pay-related matters for their employees (implications for organisations that were not included in the review are not clear yet)
  • Processes to develop new strategies on Local and Community Development, Social Enterprise and Volunteering are well advanced in the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) – a very welcome development towards delivering the Programme for Government commitment (page 131) to deliver a Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector.
  • There has been an intensification of commissioning of services by Tusla and the HSE
  • There has been an increasing application of Electoral Act provisions that restrict civil society advocacy as some cv organisations were ordered to return funds to donors and cease advocacy based on these funds.
  • Brexit, of course, has created a high degree of uncertainty over the long-term future of European funding programmes such as Peace and Interreg – programmes that are very important for many organisations in their cross-border and international work.

These issues will continue to affect the sector - and influence government policy towards the sector- in 2019. For more information on these issues and The Wheel’s policy and advocacy work visit the Policy and Research Section.