The Wheel Calls For New Social Dialogue To Develop Government’s Post-Pandemic Recovery Plan

Posted on 19 May 2021

The Wheel, the national association of charities, has called on the Government to convene a new multi-sector social dialogue to develop Ireland’s post-pandemic recovery plan and prevent a further deepening of social inequality.

Speaking at The Wheel’s annual summit for the charity sector, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel, said, “Collaboration between the State and community and voluntary sector has increased significantly during the pandemic. Examples of this collaborative approach include the successful rollout of the Covid-19 Stability Fund for Community and Voluntary Organisations, additional funding for health and social services in Budget 2021, flexible contract arrangements between the State and nonprofit service providers, and the broad solidarity built through the Community Call initiative. 

“We now call for Government to extend this collaborative approach by convening a new social dialogue which should include trade unions and employers, the community and voluntary sector, as well as farmers and environmental groups. Any structure for social dialogue that excludes any of these groups would be a recipe for deepening divisions and social inequality in Ireland. A properly constituted social dialogue forum would focus on the need to create a just society underpinned by a vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability,” said Deirdre Garvey.

The Wheel’s annual Summit for charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises (19 & 20 May), is being attended by over 1,000 staff and volunteers working in the sector, which employs 186,000 people and generates an annual turnover of over €14bn. An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin delivered a keynote address during the online event.

Uneven Impact of Pandemic

The results of a survey of 288 charities, published by The Wheel, shows that the pandemic is having a very uneven impact across the charity sector. Over half of organisations said their organisation’s income fell in 2020, with charities relying on public fundraising most severely affected. Of the nearly two-thirds of organisations in receipt of State funding, only 7% reported a reduction in funding in 2020. More than a third (38%) increased their service provision in 2020, while 32% had to cut services and 30% maintained the same level of services.

Benefacts, the nonprofit data analysis organisation, has also released a new analysis of the charity sector, including for the first time a detailed profile of State support in 2019 and 2020. Patricia Quinn, founder and managing director of Benefacts, said, “Benefacts’ new analysis finds that State support to the charity sector actually increased by almost 10% to €4.6 billion in 2020, as various Government departments and State agencies augmented their support for charities experiencing a significant increase in demand for their services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as those that saw their ability to generate fund-raised or earned income collapse overnight. This sharp increase in support – predominantly in health, social services and the arts/culture helped to shelter many charities from the seismic, but uneven, impact of the pandemic.”