2022 in Review: A Public Policy Perspective

Posted on
8 Dec 2022
by Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy

Funding and Inflation 

Top of the priority list in 2022 was the issue of inflation. It’s impacting organisations across the board, who face massive challenges around adequate pay, energy bills, and funding levels. 

We have been campaigning for pay parity throughout the year for organisations funded under Section 39 (HSE), Section 56 (Tusla) and Section 10 (Housing Act/Homeless). As it stands, these arrangements do not allow for adequate staff remuneration and employment terms. Recruitment and retention have resultantly become crisis issues; some organisations have reported 40% yearly staff turnover to us. After repeated engagements, this issue is clearly recognised by the respective funders, and we are continuing to seek action to address it. 

We have also advocated heavily for adequate energy supports for the sector. We were delighted to see the CVESS scheme open in December for organisations not covered by existing schemes. There are outstanding issues in some instances for those who are part-funded from certain sources, and we are continuing to engage officials to ensure that such organisations are entitled to the full range of financial support. 

Our work to mainstream multi-annual funding and reduce insurance premiums also continues with renewed vigor, as this would also help to provide much-needed stability and financial relief in the coming years. 

Charities Act Amendment 

We made a submission on the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022 in July, and briefed a Joint Oireachtas Committee in subsequent months. We are pleased to see our recommendations recognised in the resultant Committee Report, and understand that the updated bill is now progressing quickly towards publication.  

The submission was developed in collaboration with Charities Institute Ireland, with legal input by Mason Hayes & Curran LLP, solicitors, and addressed a number of proposals that we were concerned would impact negatively upon organisations and their operations.  

You can read about the submission, see the full document, and watch our appearance in front of the JOC here.  

The Sector’s Reputation 

The next Irish Charity Engagement Monitor (ICEM) report is due in early 2023, and we will see if the sector’s reputational recovery continues. Most recently, 62% of surveyed members of the public said that they trust charities “up to a point” or “a great deal”, up from 57% in the wake of the Bóthar scandal in 2021 (trust stood at 64% in the poll prior to that). 

In this context, the We Act campaign continues its vital work promoting positive stories from the sector. Most recently, its Christmas PR campaign has seen national coverage on Morning Ireland, Ireland AM, and in the Irish Times, along with regional coverage in many local newspapers.  

The campaign will continue to profile staff and volunteers, hold events, and consult the sector on its future direction throughout 2023. We would love to hear from any organisation/group that has an interesting story to tell or ideas about the campaign. Email our Campaigns Officer, Madeline Campbell, at info@weact.ie or visit WeAct.ie

Advisory Groups and Fora 

We are involved in a number of initiatives to further fruitful linkages between the state and the CV sector, and have continued developing our representative role with pride throughout 2022. Our involvements include the Health Dialogue Forum and Tusla’s Commissioning Advisory Group, among others.  

If you would like to learn more about this work, or join our many networks (such as our Community Services Programme Network, Social Enterprise Network, or European Managers Network), email lily@wheel.ie and we will connect you into the relevant group. 

Sector Skills and Training 

Ensuring that the sector's workforce, and the organisations they work for, have the necessary skills to deliver their vital missions across Irish society, continues to be a key public policy priority for The Wheel.  

Throughout 2022 we engaged, alongside our members, in the landmark OECD review of the National Skills Strategy. This included a unique event we hosted online in October, which brought the OECD team directly in front of CV sector employers to explore the upskilling and development needs of our sector. We were very pleased to see several references to community and voluntary organisations in the emerging recommendations of the review. We will continue to advocate on behalf of the sector and its 170,000 employees as the OECD Review is finalised and published in 2023. If you'd like to join our Skills and Innovation Member Network and contribute to this important public policy priority, then please contact mairead@wheel.ie.  

As part of our ongoing practical work to support upskilling and development in the sector, we were also delighted to launch The Leadership Academy in June 2022. The Leadership Academy is designed to help nonprofit leaders develop their essential leadership skills and provides support, networking and development opportunities at all stages in your leadership journey. The Academy will continue to grow and develop throughout 2023, if you are interested in finding out more you can contact sharon@wheel.ie

Special Programmes and Topics  

The Wheel has continued to utilise and promote European programmes over the last year. Major development include: securing the National Contact Point Role for the Employment and Social Innovation Fund, which will enable us to support organisations to access funding through this programme; representing the Irish social economy on a major pan-European skills project called baSE, which includes 25 partners from 10 EU countries; and continuing our EU funding support service, Access Europe, which has supported Irish organisations to access €8.9 million of EU funding in the last two years. 

We have been honoured to play a part in the Shared Island discourse through iCommunity, a joint programme from The Wheel and NICVA (our counterparts in Northern Ireland). Its report sets out a new vision for increased all-Ireland collaboration on shared challenges, including climate action, rural development, and digital connectivity and remote work. We have huge ambitions for this project, and you can learn all about it at iCommunityhub.org.   

Our work on Social Enterprise saw the launch of Unlocking the Social Economy, Supporting Social Enteprise. The policy paper is a rallying call for all those who believe that we must move urgently towards an economy that works for people and the planet and that social enterprise is at the heart of this. We have also relaunched our Social Enterprise Network and heartily encourage participation. Please email sean@wheel.ie to register your interest in joining. 

We continue working on themes of sustainability and just transition (which we have been strongly engaged with as members of Coalition 2030) with a new project, EMERGE, which launched this month. EMERGE is a training and mentoring programme designed to empower communities in the wider Midlands region to meet the challenges posed by Ireland’s transition to a climate-proofed economy and resilient society. We encourage anyone working with communities in this region to engage with the project. Email Suzie Cahn at suzie@wheel.ie to register your interest.