A New Framework for Partnership

 We need a new framework for partnership working between the sector and government.

1. Background – Challenges for Sector in delivering Towards 2016

“Productive relationships would be characterised by a coherent policy framework for the development of community and voluntary organisations”. 

The Government accepted in section 34 of the national agreement Towards 2016 (see link at bottom of the page) that particular challenges will arise in relation to the role of the community and voluntary sector in implementing the lifecycle approach. The Government also recognises that it has a responsibility to provide an enabling framework to help the sector.

Section 34 contains two specific proposals to support the sector’s role committing Government:

  1. To engage with the sector in relation to future frameworks to support the relationship between statutory bodies and community and voluntary organisations and,
  2. To implement the proposal of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) to maximise the contribution of the CV Sector by deepening the partnership between statutory bodies and community and voluntary organisations.

The NESC proposed in Strategy 2006 “that a process be created to deepen the partnership between statutory bodies and community and voluntary organisations because:

  • of the increased need for accountability for outcomes achieved and
  • the need to allow voluntary and community organisations to maximise their contribution to problem solving and social development.”

Additionally, the NESC noted that “productive relationships would be characterised by a coherent policy framework for the development of community and voluntary organisations”.

2. Delivering Towards 2016 will require a new partnership-framework

There is general agreement that the delivery of improved services and supports for people at all stages of the lifecycle, as envisaged in Towards 2016, is being impeded by an inability of existing systems to adapt to the new demands. If the community and voluntary sector and the State are to rise to the challenge of delivering the vision set out in Towards 2016, then the quality of partnership-working will require transformation.

Delivering effective partnership working will require developing a new partnership framework that sets out:

  • the principles that should govern the engagement between the sector and state around negotiating the services that are to be delivered, and;
  • the institutions and processes through which the framework would be operated and reviewed.

The new partnership framework would provide a template to guide the behaviour and expectations of community and voluntary sector service-providers and state departments and agencies when negotiating the design and delivery of services.

3. The new partnership framework should include a supportive statutory funding regime

The new partnership framework should include a comprehensively re-designed statutory funding system that ensures:

  • community and voluntary sector service-providers recover the full cost of the services they provide – while being provided with multi-annual funding (so they can plan ahead);
  • service level agreements and grants make provision for organisations to make pension contributions where appropriate;
  • standardisation is achieved to the greatest extent possible in all paperwork associated with service level agreements / grants, activity and financial reporting, monitoring and evaluation reports and other similar reporting requirements.

4. We should deliver the new partnership framework through producing an agreement or accord (comhaontu) between the community and voluntary (CV) sector and the State.

The Wheel proposes that a new partnership framework should take the form of an agreement or accord (comhaontú) between the CV sector and the State that sets out:

  • the principles that would inform the partnership-engagement between the sector and the state;
  • the infrastructure that would develop, drive implementation, and monitor/review an comhaontú;
  • a new  statutory funding regime (as outlined above).

5. Conclusion

The Wheel has proposed to Government that work be commenced to deliver the objectives set out above that are in line with the proposals - contained in section 34 of Towards 2016 - to deepen the partnership and to provide an enabling framework for the CV sector.

The Wheel proposes that this work be commenced by a high level officials group working in partnership with CV pillar members under the auspices of the section 34 group.

The Wheel suggests that the principles of the White Paper Supporting Voluntary Activity - re-subscribed to in Towards 2016 - could usefully form the starting point in producing a new accord/comhaontú.

* It is worth noting that the NESC Strategy recommended the need for a three-way relationship-framework to structure:

  • departmental relations with individual voluntary and community organisations;
  • sector level relationships with voluntary and community organisations, and;
  • national level relationship between the sector and the State.

More Information

For further information on the content of this paper please contact  Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy at The Wheel. Email: ivan@wheel.ie or ph: (01) 454 8727.