The Government is aware of the challenges facing the community and voluntary sector in Ireland, and is committed to working with the sector to manage these challenges.
In 2019, my Department published Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities - A five year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 2019-2024. The strategy reaffirms the Government’s commitment to supporting the sector and addressing some of the burdens faced by service providers, whilst also recognising the reality of finite resources and the need to ensure that available resources are focused on providing effective services.
Co-produced by Government and the Community and Voluntary Sector, the Strategy sets out 11 high-level objectives and associated actions which will empower communities, their representative organisations, and the community and voluntary sector to inform and shape responses to their needs.
Specifically, the strategy commits, inter alia, to scope and develop a sustainable funding model to support the community and voluntary sector, examining a multi-annual funding approach, an appropriate cost-recovery model and the concept of core funding.
The implementation of the Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities strategy is being overseen by the Cross-Sectoral Group on Local and Community Development – a representative group consisting of local and central Government, the community and voluntary sector, community development and local development nominees, each representing the interests of their member organisations and stakeholders. A key role for this group is to support this Department in the prioritisation of objectives and actions to be progressed within the framework of annual work plans.
Regrettably, in the context of the pandemic, progress on the implementation of actions in the strategy was somewhat delayed as my Department's resources were refocused, for a time, to provide immediate and responsive supports to the sector through the Covid-19 Stability Fund. I am happy to report however, that progress is now being made on a number of actions relating to training and capacity building supports and values and principles to underline consultation and partnership working.
The question of multi-annual funding including a cost recovery model is a complex issue which will take time to resolve. I fully recognise the concerns of the sector and I am committed to addressing this challenge in collaboration with the CSG and other relevant stakeholders.
The Department looks forward to continuing to engage with stakeholders, and their representative organisations in addressing this and other challenges identified in the strategy. This is an ambitious strategy which will support partnership and joint effort at all levels and between all stakeholders. While I acknowledge that the delivery of some of the actions will take time, I am fully committed to achieving the objectives of this Strategy.