Sector Groups Meet with Finance Minister

Simon Hamilton, Minister for Finance and Personnel met with representatives of the voluntary and community sector at NICVA on Thursday, 21 November.

When Minister Hamilton took up office it became clear that he would make the reform of public service delivery a priority. At the time of his appointment we met with the Minister to discuss his plans and he agreed to engage with a cross section of voluntary and community organisations to hear their thinking on this issue.

Representatives from voluntary and community organisations took the opportunity to raise a number of issues with the Minister including problems with procurement, such as the danger of voluntary and community organisations losing out to large private sector companies; how to encourage cross departmental working; government process acting as a barrier to innovation in the voluntary and community sector and the cultural change needed to deal with innovation and risk in the public sector.

The meeting highlighted a selection of innovative projects run by voluntary and community organisations which showed how charities can deliver effective and efficient services to people most in need.

Speaking after the meeting Seamus McAleavey said “Today was another helpful and important step in our on-going engagement with the Minister and his officials on these issues. Voluntary and community groups often develop new services based on the needs of client groups. They are agile and quick to respond as they are close to the issue and often involve the people who need the services in self-help. These organisations are quite literally at the heart of the community, whether working with older people, children and young people, the unemployed, victims of crime and offenders.”

Addressing the meeting Minister Hamilton said: “The Community and Voluntary sector has a vital role to play as part of the public sector reform programme. They do exceptional work to a very high standard addressing social issues in ways in which government simply are not able to. One the key aspects of the work of the newly established Public Sector Reform Division will be to examine how to support the community and voluntary sector organisations in having an even greater role in the delivery of public services.”