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Author: Northern Ireland Assembly
Published on 18 January 2012 12:00 AM

The contribution of the Voluntary and Community Sector is vital to delivering public services and improving society says a new report from the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.

The Committee’s Report, entitled Creating Effective Partnerships between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector looked at the relationships between the Sector and Government departments.

Speaking at the launch of the Report, Committee Chairperson Paul Maskey MP MLA, said “An effective relationship between the Sector and public bodies, built around partnership, mutual trust and respect, is essential. However, the complexity of this relationship has, in my experience, contributed to over-bureaucratic, risk-averse approaches to monitoring of funding and to a lack of focus on what is actually being delivered.”

“The Committee expects to see tangible evidence of improvements, based on practical actions aimed at reducing the level of bureaucracy through the adoption of proportionate monitoring and audit. It is also important that these improvements focus on outcomes.

“It is imperative, for example, that Government look closely at how funding is provided – continuing with multiple funding streams to one organisation is simply inefficient and untenable.

While highlighting the good practice guides and statements of principles which have been put in place, the Committee acknowledged that these had not been always been applied consistently by public bodies or the Sector. It also noted that a recent 2011agreement between the Sector and Government provided an opportunity to improve working arrangements and outcomes.

“On the ground, it is clear that the Sector is making a huge contribution in improving the day to day life within our communities. This should rightly be recognised and applauded. However, more still needs to be done. We believe that it is important that our recommendations are adopted not only by the
 
Department for Social Development as a lead Department, but by all who work with the Voluntary and Community Sector.”

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