Joint Forum meets to discuss Bureaucracy, Brexit, Community Planning & PfG

The third Joint Forum meeting of 2019 took place on 17 October at NICVA. 

There was a full agenda for this meeting between the voluntary and community sector and the public sector with issues around  Bureaucracy in government funding, Programme for Government, Brexit and Community Planning being discussed.

Addressing Bureaucracy in Government funding

Bureaucracy in government funding is an issue that is continuously raised by voluntary and community sector organisations as one of their biggest challenges in their day to day work. Disproportionate bureaucracy poses a real threat to the ability of organisations to deliver outcomes, be sustainable and manage their staff and activities.

The Joint Forum voluntary and community sector group has established a sub-group to undertake work to compile and evidence base to get a full picture of government bureaucracy and the impact on organisations. This work comes of the back of the 2013 report on tackling bureaucracy in government funding report which made 17 recommendations to ensure that bureaucracy in grant administration is proportional. The sub-group are focussing their work around two recommendations: Recommendation 12- 'Discretion to Manage' and Recommendation 17- Full Cost Recovery. It is envisaged that this work would be mutually beneficial for the sector and for departments to ensure that organisations are able to deliver the outcomes required and not prohibited from doing this by petty bureaucracy.

Programme for Government Outcomes

The Joint Forum had a discussion around the draft Programme for Government and the Ouctomes Delivery Plan 2018/19 in the context of the contribution of the voluntary and community sector delivery to the outcomes.

The discussion considered that fact that whilst the voluntary and community sector play an essential part in the delivery of outcomes for the well-being of society, it also, primarily, has a very important role in challenging government policy and practice. It was highlighted that the two sectors are distinct, and that government must not curtail the challenge role of the sector but provide the conditions for the protection and promotion of the independence of the sector and support it to thrive.


It would have been near on impossible to get through a meeting without mentioning Brexit, and this conversation focussed on the voluntary and community sector’s concerns around ‘Day One’ readiness in the event of a no deal and also the communication with ordinary citizens around what Brexit will mean for them, how it will impact their every day lives and what preparations or contingencies are being undertaken.

The Department for Communities have highlighted that all departments are undertaking ‘day one’ readiness as well as preparations beyond day one. It was highlighted that it is important that information around Brexit is easily found and there needs to be a more substantial communications effort.

Community Planning

We were delighted to be joined at the Joint Forum meeting by Community Planning Leads Martina Totten and David Cuthbert from both Mid-Ulster council and Belfast City council to talk about the community planning process in these councils and the way they are engaging with local community and voluntary sectors. Presentations from both of these councils are attached.

The next full Joint Forum meeting is due to take place on 20 February 2020. This will be the final Joint Forum of the 2017-2020 term.

You can find out further information on the Joint Forum here, or get in touch with [email protected]

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.