Joint Forum Voluntary and Community Sector Panel Meeting

The Voluntary and Community Sector panel got together last Tuesday 17 October ahead of the Joint Forum meeting between the public sector and voluntary and community taking place on Friday 27 October 2017.

The purpose of this meeting was to provide new members of the panel with an update on the work being carried out, their role in the Joint Forum, as well as identifying emerging issues impacting the sector.

The initial discussion focused on the ongoing review of the Concordat and the work being carried out by the CAT sub-group in relation to this. The CAT team advised that they have drawn up a new draft Concordat which will be consulted upon at the upcoming Joint Forum meeting. It was proposed that members break into small groups and discussion sessions on the draft Concordat will be facilitated by CAT team members. Three questions have been suggested to help focus the discussion and these are as follows:

  1. What benefits and outcomes would you expect to see if the Joint Forum was working well?  What mechanisms would help deliver this?
  2. How can we ensure that the right people in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and in government (inc. statutory bodies and local government) are fully involved in the business of the Joint Forum?
  3. Can you suggest good examples of case studies to illustrate where government and the VCSE sector are working well together to co-deliver positive outcomes? (Examples identified could provide good practice lessons for co-delivery and possible ideas for venues for future Forum meetings incorporating suitable presentations on good practice)

Further to this, there was a discussion about emerging sectoral issues and concerns.  A wide-ranging number of issues were identified by members including:

  • The growing issue of drugs misuse pervading all sections of society and the co-ordination by government and Voluntary and Community sector to ensure awareness of and access to suitable resourced services to help those affected.
  • The two-child cap and the rape clause and associated implications.
  • The latest situation regarding the future government funding for voluntary and community sector organisations beyond the current approvals to March 2018 to facilitate future planning of services.
  • The issue of, and current Department for Infrastructure consultation on, the introduction of new requirements to hold ‘10b’ minibus licences potentially affecting employees of many voluntary and community organisations.
  • The latest situation in relation to the spend and progress of funding programmes related to the Fresh Start agreement
  • The issue of how Brexit may affect voluntary and community organisations who operate in NI and ROI and what their governance requirements and option might be. (It was highlighted that the Charity Commission was planning events in December which could provide guidance on this issue)
  • The issue of the requirement and challenge for very small voluntary and community sector organisations to register with the Charity Commission
  • The impact of the new General Data Protection Regulations on how and why voluntary and community sector organisations and the public sector gather information. 

Concluding the meeting, the Chair and Vice Chair agreed to take forward the emerging issues that were raised to the Joint Chairs’ meeting on Friday 20th October for discussion on how they might be incorporated into the agenda of the full Joint Forum meeting on 27th October and the future workplan of the Joint Forum.

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