I thank the Chairman and the committee for giving Caranua the opportunity to come before it today to discuss the 2017 financial statements. Caranua was established in 2013 as the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, under the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012. Caranua is responsible for the management of a limited fund to improve the quality of life of people who, as children, experienced abuse and neglect in institutions and who have received an award or settlement as referred to in the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. To date, €106.9 million has been received from the religious congregations and an additional €1.38 million in interest. There is just over €3 million outstanding in contributions, which is expected to be received in full by December 2019.
Caranua commenced accepting applications in January 2014. Since then, Caranua has received applications from 6,543 people. Of these, 5,987 were survivors who were eligible to apply for funding supports. By the end of September 2019, Caranua had made over 54,000 funding supports payments to the value of €91.3 million. At 30 September, the highest area of provision of funding supports was home improvements at €65.1 million, followed by health at €24.5 million, education at €1.4 million and exceptional needs support at €0.28 million. In carrying out its function, Caranua has tried to distribute the fund provided in the fairest way possible to all eligible survivors. The legislation sets out that all operational costs must be met from the fund. To the end of September, €11.5 million has been spent on operations. The board of Caranua and management have worked determinedly to minimise operational costs and continue to do so during the wind-down phase.
As part of enhanced reporting, we have improved our accountability and transparency through our monthly updates on our website. Our website has information on board minutes, monthly updates on applications and spend, information on complaints and feedback from survivors and other news items are published regularly. Caranua has to strike a balance between working with survivors in a person-centred and compassionate manner and our obligations as a public body with regards to our fiduciary responsibilities. While at times the process can be seen by some survivors as too bureaucratic, it has been necessary for Caranua to respond to the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Following recommendations of the 2017 audit, we invested a lot of time reviewing and improving our internal policies and procedures, aiming to combat the issues raised, while still focusing on delivering an accessible and person-centred service for survivors. Since the beginning of 2018, our internal controls are reviewed at every board meeting and actions are implemented and updated at the following meeting. Our risk register is also reviewed at every audit and risk committee meeting and updates are provided at each board meeting. Since December 2018, Caranua has been at 100% compliance with the code of practice for the governance of State bodies. The board of Caranua has established a wind-down committee to manage the orderly wind-down of Caranua. This committee met the representative of the Department of Education and Skills tasked with drafting the wind-down legislation required. The committee will continue to engage with the Department.
In order to combat discrepancies between the confidential payment system and the case management system, a complete change of practice was undertaken in 2018. Monthly reconciliations are now undertaken and a full report from 2018 shows the two systems are now fully reconciled. Public procurement guidelines are complied with in all instances of purchasing goods and services since 2018. For purchases prior to 2018, where the guidelines were not complied with or documentation was not retained, we have undertaken a process of market testing to ensure value for money. As Caranua is currently in wind-down, a decision was made not to re-tender for the existing suppliers. Since September 2018, we have introduced purchase requisition order documents. Evidence of tax clearance certificates are now obtained for all relevant suppliers. On travel and subsistence claims, supporting documentation is obtained for all claims made. The rate of subsistence for staff is in line with Government circulars.
On prepayment documents, a simplified acceptable quotations document is provided to survivors so they are aware in advance of the standard of quotation required for audit purposes. We have also introduced additional internal checks to ensure the paperwork is of the required standard prior to payment. We implemented a best effort approach with regard to post-payment requirements. During the course of their application, the application advisers ask that survivors send in their receipts for all funding supports received. In addition, we wrote to survivors requesting return of any outstanding receipts from 2018. Caranua has received 66% of receipts from funding supports made during 2018. While this may seem like a straightforward task, receiving the letters was upsetting for some survivors as they felt we did not trust them, which was not the case at all. It can be a challenge to meet both the needs of survivors and the audit recommendations.
Our 2018 audited accounts are currently with the Comptroller and Auditor General and we hope to have them finalised in the coming weeks. As Caranua operates with a limited fund, which is now nearly expended, we are nearing the end of our remit and are currently in the process of winding down the organisation. On 31 May 2018, the board of Caranua announced the decision to cease taking new or repeat applications from 1 August 2018. As legislation prevents Caranua from making first contact with survivors, we were dependent on raising awareness of the cessation date through a variety of methods, including outreach events, poster campaigns, media advertising, word of mouth and working with survivor support and other stakeholder groups.
As a result of this work, Caranua received 289 applications between 1 May and 1 August 2018. After 2 August 2018, Caranua received 378 applications. Except for in exceptional circumstances, Caranua has not provided funding supports to these survivors, but we have offered advocacy supports and some survivors have availed of them. In the past 18 months, Caranua has adopted a targeted approach to outreach events by focusing on a number of specific survivor groups, including survivors who required additional supports in managing their applications and those who had received limited or no funding supports. This targeted approach has proven to have excellent results, as survivors are provided with an opportunity to discuss their applications in person with their application advisers.
I will outline some examples of our outreach work. More than 100 survivors have opted to come to Caranua's offices for meetings with their application advisers. Outreach days have been organised in conjunction with the Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support, Right of Place, the Cork Deaf Association and in the UK with the Cáirde survivors group, the Coventry Irish Society and the Disabled Survivors Support Network. Caranua commenced a programme of outreach for survivors in prisons across Ireland. In addition, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the State apology to survivors and the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Ryan report. I was delighted that the Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support invited Caranua, along other survivor support and counselling services, to join the organising committee to plan two events to mark the anniversaries. We organised a conference, Facing the future together - Ireland's lifelong responsibility to the survivors of institutional abuse, on 11 May in Trinity College. In the afternoon, a celebration event was held for survivors.
Through our work, we have found that social isolation is an issue for a number of survivors. Many survivors contact Caranua on a regular basis for a chat as this communication is the only social contact they have. Survivors outside of Ireland often mention that Caranua is their only link with Ireland. We aim to assist survivors by linking them with survivor support groups and other organisations that may be able to offer support and befriending services in the longer term.
While working in Caranua, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most resilient and empowered survivors and I have also met survivors who are still very much impacted by their childhood experiences who will require supports for the foreseeable future. Caranua will continue to work in support of survivors until our closure. I thank the Chairperson and the members for their attention. We are happy to answer any questions that the committee may wish to raise.