Charities call for urgent reduction in red-tape and increased funding for community-led services
Six charity networks, encompassing 2,500 organisations, have called on Government to urgently streamline the growing list of reporting and compliance requirements faced by Irish charities.
The Wheel, Care Alliance Ireland, Carmichael, Disability Federation of Ireland, Irish Rural Link and National Youth Council of Ireland also called for additional investment for community-led services in Budget 2019 to support the implementation of ambitious new strategies for the community and voluntary sector, volunteering and social enterprise. The Department of Rural and Community Development will publish these strategies in 2019.
Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said support is needed to help charities deliver on the many governance, managerial and operational challenges resulting from necessary regulatory progress in recent years. “Charities face increasingly intense regulatory and funding compliance requirements. We need Government to review these regulatory and compliance frameworks to limit unnecessary duplication and to ensure these requirements are as streamlined as possible. Business-supports available to commercial enterprises should also be made available to charitable organisations,” Ivan Cooper said.
Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, CEO of Carmichael added, “Large numbers of people in Ireland are involved in the community, voluntary and charitable sector. People willingly give up their free time to work as volunteers and to serve on committees and boards. Organisations need effective and appropriate oversight but they also need support and resources to help them adhere to good governance standards. The necessity and importance of complying with ever-increasing legislative and regulatory requirements makes it harder to attract and retain volunteer board and committee members. Supports and resources aimed at enhancing good governance will help organisations to maximise their impact on behalf of their service users and the wider community.”
James Doorley, Deputy Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) said, “Youth organisations have had to invest significant staff and volunteer time and financial resources into meeting the operational and reporting requirements of a range of new provisions, such as the National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for the Youth Work Sector, vetting, charities regulation, the Companies Act, lobbying regulation, GDPR, etc. without any additional funding to meet these costs. We are concerned that already stretched staff and volunteer time and budgets are being diverted from direct work with young people towards compliance, governance and reporting. We do not query the need for compliance and enhanced governance; however this work needs to be funded.”
Louise Lennon, Policy and Communications Officer at Irish Rural Link said, “The community, voluntary and charity sector provide essential services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. While we appreciate the importance of governance and regulation for the sector, for many smaller groups, a lot of time can be taken up on implementing these. More support and resources are needed to ensure everyday work is not impacted.
The six networks also called for increased investment in community-led services and supports.
Liam O’Sullivan, Executive Director of Care Alliance Ireland highlighted the contribution Ireland’s 360,000 family carers make to our society. “Family carers, often providing around the clock care, need to feel that the care they provide is adequately valued by their communities – all too often they face challenges in accessing home care and in securing income supports and thus risk being further isolated in their caring role. We are calling for the carer support grant to be increased by €300 this year and for an additional 10% investment in home care support annually to address the documented inadequacies in current provision.”
Dr. Joanne McCarthy, Senior Executive Officer Policy & Research at the Disability Federation of Ireland added, "Without the supports and vital services delivered through community and voluntary organisations many individuals and families will not be able to participate in their local communities. These services, however, were amongst those hardest hit by the Recession and austerity cuts. The budget for disability services alone was reduced by €159.4m or 9.4% between 2008 and 2015. Sustaining quality services requires adequate funding in Budget 2019."