The Sector and the State Right Now
This is part two of a three-part policy update.
Here, I look at the ever-evolving relationship between the sector and the state, in particular at a number of programmes, initiatives, and policies that are making headway right now.
- Part one: How Rising Costs & Covid Aftermaths Affect Nonprofits
- Part three: Enhancing the Sector’s Reputation and Reach
Key Statutory Strategies Continue to Be Rolled Out
On a positive note, a number of processes are continuing post-crisis that we are optimistic about
- The Health Dialogue Forum (looking at developing partnership principles, the funding model and service arrangements)
- 5-year Strategy for the CV Sector (looking in time at multi-annual funding and reducing compliance demands)
- National Social Enterprise Policy (looking at practical supports and awareness-raising for social enterprises)
- National Volunteering Strategy (looking at building capacity in VIOs – Volunteer Involving Organisations)
- Tusla Commissioning Advisory Group – (looking at advancing commissioning of children’s and family services)
More Collegial Relationship Between Sector and State?
There is evidence (captured specifically in an NESC Report published in mid-2021) of much very positive and collegial work between funded voluntary organisations and their statutory counterparts (like the HSE and Tusla) during the crisis.
There is a significant concern, however, that this positive partnership approach may be slipping back towards what is felt to be the former, more bureaucratic, relationship with funders: a falling away from the “single-point decision-making” that characterised the positive relationship during the crisis. We need to work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen and ensuring that is the stated intention of the Health Dialogue Forum we are participating in with the Department of Health and the HSE. Good progress is being made here developing a set of principles to underpin a hopefully transformed relationship with the HSE. Will the needed culture-change happen? Or will the financial lens continue to predominate?
Our Summit 2022 (on 1 June) will be exploring this question in particular, so please register now!
Commission On Taxation and Welfare
We invested additional focus and expertise into preparing a submission to the Commission for Taxation and Welfare in December. On foot of that, I was invited to be a panelist at a significant Department of Finance workshop to identify priorities for our tax and welfare system – and the substance of the points I made is available as a blog.
Reform of Charities Act – The Charities Amendment Bill
The long-awaited Charities Amendment Bill was published recently. The new legislation will close off a loophole that has prevented the Charities Regulator from introducing accounting and reporting regulations for charities. It will also recognise the promotion of human rights as a charitable purpose; set thresholds for reporting and accounting by smaller organisations; and set out the duties of trustees, and important protections for trustees in certain circumstances.
We are very much looking forward to engaging with our members to find out how charity regulation is working for them, how the system can be improved to maintain a high level of trust and confidence in Ireland’s charities, and what other improvements to existing legislation might usefully be incorporated
We will be in touch with all members as the legislation advances through the Dail in the coming months – and we will be forming a group to advise us on developing our inputs into the legislative process. If you would like to learn more or get involved, please email policy officer Lily Power at email@example.com.