Dialogue between the Voluntary/Community sector and Government in Northern Ireland Jonny Currie Policy Development Officer NICVA
Introductions – about NICVA “ NICVA’s mission is to achieve progressive social change by tackling disadvantage through voluntary action and community development. It is the representative body for the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland and has over 1,000 organisations in its membership.”
Introductions - what NICVA does … Governance and Charity advice - set up/operation of a group Funding Advice - advice on project planning, funding and grant-makers Policy - training, facilitation, lobbying and representation, raising profile of sector Europe - NICVA houses Europe Direct and a European library Research - knowledge about the sector for researchers, policy makers, etc Partnerships - representing the sector on committees, fora and working groups
1.Policy Development 2.Relationship with Government Will Cover:
Responding to consultations issued by public bodies and government Lobbying and advocating Policy officers Through NICVA and other umbrella organisations such as NIAPN, RCN –Policy manifesto –Policy fora 1. How does the sector engage with policy?
Why does the sector engage with policy? Its what we are about. –Core to our aims and objectives –Social change –Need Concern about how things are done Belief in participative democracy To get results
Working with Government Specific groups such as PSI groups Steering groups, advisory groups Sub-sectoral structures, eg NGO Forum in the children’s sector Joint Forum Targeted consultations
How the sector influences policy Groups and networks Working with government Policy fora and policy manifesto Consultation
Groups and networks Branches and local groups Membership organisations, thematic and geographical Established groups, eg Law Centre fora on social security, community care, etc Sub-sectoral networks, eg Coalition for Environmental Protection, Equality Coalition Job-specific networks, eg ACOVO
Policy Fora and Manifestos Policy fora on Older People, Women, Arts, Environment, Local/Global Poverty, Men, Community Relations, Lobbying facilitated by NICVA Existing fora in other parts of the sector eg Voluntary Sector Housing Policy Forum, Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies, Ad-Hoc Women’s Policy Group Manifestos – NICVA and other organisations such as NIEL
Types of Consultation Document looking for responses to key questions, sometimes with a pro forma E-consultation Seminar, focus group Public meeting Questionnaire One-to-one meetings
An Example of Good Policy Making Taskforce on Resourcing the Voluntary and Community Sector Driven by a transparent and broadly representative group Published all research, other papers and minutes Looked for evidence Made themselves available Pathways for Change – mid term report Inclusive and wide consultation process - Resourced groups to participate - Available for meetings and presentations Analysis of responses Investing Together Positive Steps – ongoing process with sector
An example of bad policy making Towards an Anti-Poverty Strategy No concrete proposals Launched during a holiday (no questions) Consultation over the summer Ignored much of the consultation No real change from what we already have Endless evidence BUT No political vision No budget Secrecy Flawed process of reaching targets – upside down
Devolution (2008) Transfer of certain powers from a central government to a regional government. Allows decisions to be made at a level closer to the people they affect. Central government retains power over certain areas. Northern Ireland continues to elect MPs to the UK Parliament’s House of Commons and the Secretary of State continues to represent Northern Ireland’s interests in the UK Cabinet.
Getting our voice heard: Voluntary and community organisations can, Suggest a question and supplementary for an MLA Suggest a motion for debate under Private Members Business or adjournment Make a presentation to a committee Suggest a topic for a committee inquiry
2. Relationships with Government New Labour philosophy Compact –Accountability –Active citizenship –Community –Democracy –Equality –Partnership –Pluralism –Social justice Joint Forum –Representative from each Government Department. At least Grade 7. –15 members from the Voluntary and Community Sector –Meets three times per year to focus on issues of concern to the sector Taskforce Partnerships Contracts
Developments 1998 – Compact and Joint Forum 2004 – Taskforce on Resourcing the Community and Voluntary Sector 2005 – Positive Steps 2006 – Partners for Change 2008 – ?
Joint Forum Promoting dialogue and further developing the relationship between the voluntary and community sector and Northern Ireland Government departments; Enabling matters of common concern to be raised by the voluntary and community sector and Government; Promoting strategic discussions about issues affecting the voluntary and community Sector and volunteering; Informing policy change on matters which may impact on the voluntary and community sector; Monitoring the Compact and monitoring and evaluation of Partners for Change
Joint Forum 3 full meetings a year Inter-departmental group (IDG) Voluntary and community sector panel Joint secretariat between NICVA/VCU Joint Chairs Joint working groups (strategy, training, RPA)
The Compact 3 Themes: Capacity building Working Together Supporting the Sector
Positive Steps Longer-term funding/outcome-focussed Lead departments Community Investment Fund Modernisation Fund Quality standards Good governance Policy development Strategy for Support Services ICT Strategy Skills Strategy
Partners for Change Supporting document for the Compact Building communities and promoting active citizenship Shaping policy development Investment in the sector
2008? Compact review process Review of Public Administration How does devolved government view the community/voluntary sector? (participative democracy) Ongoing policy issues
Further information - contact Jonny Currie NICVA Policy Development Officer Email: email@example.com Tel: 028 9087 7777 Web Sites: www.nicva.org | www.communityni.org