Friday afternoon saw the low-key launch of the NI Office of the First and deputy First Ministers’ proposals to, amongst other things, reform funding of what NI Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has referred to as “a victims industry” – whether he thinks that “industry” includes the four Victims Commissioners isn’t entirely clear. The Commission have their own consultation [on their draft corporate plan (pdf file)] under way, but potential alternative options were suggested previously. The OFMDFM proposals [pdf file] are out for a 10 week public consultation and appear to be based on recommendations by the unlawfully appointed Interim Commissioner. The document sets out the current situation [pdf file]
2.1 OFMDFM currently provides for Victims and Survivors via three main funding streams:
Core Funding Scheme;
Development Grant Scheme; and
The Northern Ireland Memorial Fund
2.2 The Core Funding and Development Grant Schemes are operated on behalf of OFMDFM by the Community Relations Council which acts as an
Intermediary Funding Body. The Northern Ireland Memorial Fund is an independent charity.
And on “Other funding streams”
2.13 In addition to OFMDFM funded schemes victims groups can also apply for European funding through the Peace II and Peace III programmes. Peace II ran from 2000-2006 with funding released in two phases. Peace III will run from 2007-2013. OFMDFM has implemented an interim capacity fund to help groups manage the transition between the Peace II and Peace III programmes. OFMDFM is the accountable department for the following Peace III Priorities:
1.1 Building positive relationships at the local level 140.9M
1.2 Acknowledging and Dealing with the Past 50M
2.2 Key institutional capacities developed for a shared society 40M
2.14 Theme 1.2 is aimed at groups working with victims and survivors. It is divided into 3 strands:
Addressing the Past in Public Memory;
Support for Participation; and
Securing the Future.
2.15 This funding is and will remain separate from the work of the new Victims and Survivors Service. It is however important for the Service to take account of the Peace III programme as many if not all of the groups funded by the Service will also be seeking European funding. The two funding streams while separate will be inter-related and account will need to be taken by the Victims and Survivors Service of resources provided to victims and survivors groups though other schemes.
And the proposed reform? A centralised Victims and Survivors Service with access to a single fund. From the consultation document [pdf file]
5.3 With regard to the funding of Victims and Survivors groups and other voluntary and community organisations providing support for victims and survivors the new Service will:
(a) invite tenders for services from victims and survivors groups and other voluntary and community organisations with reference to the evidence based assessment of need carried out by the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
(b) Commission services from victims and survivors groups and other voluntary and community organisations in response to tenders received on the basis of rolling three-year contracts reviewed annually to take account of changing needs and the work of the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
(c) Monitor the performance of funded organisations against their contractual obligations and against any standards on outcomes and standards of services produced by the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
(d) Ensure against duplication of funding by reference to the evidence based assessment of need carried out by the Commission, together with the promotion of collaborative work between groups and others, where practicable and consistent with the need for individuals to feel safe.