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Shaping the future relationship with Government – Update on Proposals for a new Partnership Agreement & Fair Funding Principles

The Joint Forums Voluntary & Community Sector Panel invite VCS colleagues to an update briefing & discussion on the proposals for a new Partnership Agreement between the Voluntary & Community Sector & Government including the agreement of a set of Fair Funding Principles. These proposals detail shared values & ways of working better together to meet the needs of communities and individuals across NI. The Panel are keen to share details and hear views on the draft Fair Funding Principles developed jointly between the VCS and Public Sector representatives of the Forum, which detail key principles and ways of working that should inform the funding relationship between the sectors.

Arrangements for the Session

Details for this session are as follows:

Date: Thursday 30th May 2024

Time: 10.30 am – 12.30 pm approx.

Venue: NICVA offices, Belfast

***Please note this session is for voluntary and community sector organisations only***

The Panel will also be holding an online session on Friday 31st May 10.30 -12 pm approx, if more convenient. More details are available here: Shaping the future relationship with Government – Update on Proposals for a new Partnership Agreement between the Sectors | NICVA 

Overview and Background to Session

In September 2022 former Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, in the context of current challenges faced in the relationship, outlined the need for a renewal and recommitment of the 2011 Concordat’s agreement between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector.

The Minister tasked the membership of the Joint Forum (JF) (Joint Forum between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector) to develop and take forward proposals for this work, in anticipation of aligning this with a future Northern Ireland Programme for Government.

These proposals for a new ‘Partnership Agreement’ between the Voluntary and Community Sector and Government should detail shared values and agree commitments to working better together to meet the needs of communities and individuals across NI.

This included development a set of cross cutting Fair Funding Principles,  that should underpin the  funding relationship between the VCS and Government.

In mid – 2023 the JF VCS Panel began a process of engagement with the wider sector on the draft proposals as they were under development. Alongside this a public consultation was held by the Department for Communities, on a suggested set of Values and Ways of Working that should underpin a new agreement, as part of a wider consultation by the Department on draft proposals for future Infrastructure support of the Voluntary and Community Sector in NI.

Building on this engagement a draft Partnership Agreement has now been progressed via the Joint Forum, articulating a set of core Values and Ways of Working which should guide and inform the relationship between the voluntary and community sector, Government, and its agencies, with a view that this might ultimately be presented to Ministers and act as the foundation for agreement and adoption of a new Partnership Agreement.

Fair Funding Principles

Complimentary to the work on the Partnership Agreement, a subgroup of Voluntary and community and public sector representatives of the Joint Forum have progressed the development of a draft set of Fair Funding Principles and Ways of Working that aim to address key issues in relation to the funding relationship between the sectors. These have been informed by reviewing best practice both locally and nationally and examining current practices and approaches via ‘a shared lens’. The subgroup recently presented this draft to the wider Joint Forum for agreement and the VCS Panel are now keen to share this work with the wider VCS for feedback and discussion. The VCS panel have articulated that any mutually agreed Principles, whilst being cognizant of the challenging budgetary environment, must be ambitious and lead to meaningful change and improvement in the funding relationship and are very keen to hear sector views regarding.

JF VCS Panel Want To Hear Your Views

The Chair and members of the VCS Panel of the Joint Forum are keen to update colleagues on developments with regard to the Partnership Agreement and to hear views on how this work might best be further progressed, particularly in the context of a new NI Assembly and Executive.

The Panel are particularly keen to share, discuss and hear views/feedback on the draft Fair Funding Principles and Ways of Working, as they have been developed, in order to inform next steps in their agreement and discussions on their implementation.

The VCS panel have articulated that any Partnership Agreement should act as a framework for improving partnership working, recognising, and supporting the role and contributions of both sectors. The VCS Panel have made proposals, and the Joint Forum has been exploring what mechanisms are needed to ensure that any new Agreement leads to meaningful change and an improved relationship between the sectors. This includes their implementation and monitoring. The VCS Panel has proposed options including Statutory Legislation and is keen to hear the sectors views on what the ambition a new Partnership Agreement should be and how this might best be realised.

The Panel are also keen to discuss and hear views on how a future work plan for the Joint Forum, can most helpfully profile and progress any Partnership Agreement and in support of this further agreement and implementation of Fair Funding Principles.

For more information on how the draft proposals have been developed please read here

What is the Concordat?

The Concordat between the Voluntary & Community Sector and the Northern Ireland Government  published in 2011, set out a shared vision and agreed commitments between the sectors to work together as social partners to build a participative, peaceful, equitable and inclusive community in Northern Ireland.

What is the Joint Forum and Who are the VCS Panel?

For more information on the Joint Forum, including the full list of current Voluntary and Community Sector Panel representatives, read  here.

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