CSR briefing with DARD

9 Sep 2010     Last updated: 20 Jun 2014

As part of the Smart Solutions in Tough Times series, NICVA hosted officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) who presented a briefing on the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The meeting, hosted by NICVA, was part of a series concentrating on this topic, and as part of Vital Links, a project funded by PEACE III.

The Event was attended by members of the voluntary and community sector who listened to John Smith, Finance Director and Wendy Johnson, Acting Senior Finance Director. 

John Smith presented an overview of the strategic context of the Review and the current economic situation within DARD.

Mr Smith outline the current spending of the Department which is around £225million this year, he then outlined the working assumption of the Department in terms of future spending.  Mr Smith said “The current assumption is that the UK Spending Review announcement on the 20 October 2010 will deliver a flat cash outcome in respect of current expenditure with reduction in capital expenditure of around 6.9% per annum, in cash terms” which would mean that the Department would lose approximately £10million year on year and result in an operating budget of £185million approximately in 2014/15.

Later in the presentation Mr Smith set out the spending proposals for the Department and highlighted a number of areas where DARD would be looking to invest;

  • animal disease compensation
  • disallowance (EU penalties)
  • animal welfare
  • DARD Direct (Satellite Offices)
  • APHIS (Computer Systems)

In terms of Capital Bids Mr Smith said all departments were working off a 0% baseline and that DARD had submitted a number of bids including;

  • LPIS improvement project
  • re-tendering APHIS
  • Rivers Agency flood alleviation
  • Biomass Processing Challenge Fund
  • DARD Direct
  • Re-location of DARD HQ

In conclusion Mr Smith also touched on how the bids were submitted and talked about the type of information the Department of Finance and Personnel were looking for in terms of savings and protection of frontline services and how DFP send all departments a Guidance for Department document.  This Document set out an overview and timetable, Department Returns Guideline and Templates.  Please click on attachments to view this document. 

After the presentation the event was opened up to questions. A number of questions were asked in relation to rural development and the Department confirmed a Rural White Paper would be brought out in Spring 2011. 

A question was asked about what were the departments top priorities. Wendy Johnson said that the Department were contractually obliged to fulfill European directives and they must be met.  As for anything outside of that the Minister would set the Department's priorities. 

When asked about the impact of cuts on the most vulnerable the Department stated that high level EQIAs would be carried out on any savings options before they would be brought to the Minister.

When talking about cross departmental working, Ms Johnson highlighted a number of joint ventures her department were involved in, including the Warm Homes Scheme with the Department for Social Development and improving water quality with the Department of Regional Development. 

In closing the event Seamus McAleavey thanked the Department officials and reminded everyone that it was crucial for all voluntary and community organisations to engage with Departments during this and up coming consultations on the Budget.

Over the coming weeks NICVA has organised a series of roundtable meetings between departments and the voluntary and community sector to discuss the budget and comprehensive spending review.  Details here, and in our event listings

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