The objective of the recently launched White Paper – Supporting Voluntary Activity – is to put a more cohesive framework of support in place for the community and voluntary sector. I am happy that in the White Paper we have delivered a set of decisions about new structures and systems that will bring about real improvements over time in the day-to-day environment in which local groups operate.
The move by the Government towards a multi-annual budgeting system in the public service will facilitate Departments and agencies in giving greater assurances as to funding to be made available in the medium-term to fund agreed priority services and programmes of activities.
The Government has decided that multi-annual funding commitments should, in appropriate cases, be made available to organisations providing services or undertaking development activities that are agreed to be priorities, with the budget for each specific year to which the agreement applies to be reviewed in the light of the resources available and taking into account the legal position that the Dáil votes public moneys on an annual basis. It notes that the system of three year funding commitments that operates in the case of community development and money advice projects funded by my Department is a model that could be applied in other comparable areas.
Relevant voluntary organisations and community groups will be involved in the decision-making process at the level of each Department and agency about which services and activities should be regarded as priority areas and put on a multi-annual footing. This will take a little time, but it is important in keeping with the spirit of partnership that informs the White Paper that groups directly affected have an input into the decisions and choices to be made.