Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has announced that she does not intend to further reduce the level of core grant funding provided under the existing scheme to the voluntary and community sector.
A new Innovation Scheme had been anticipated which would have been open for applications in 2016/17 and that the existing core grant would be phased out completely by March 2018. This would have resulted in a further 25% reduction planned for 2017/18. However, the Minister is concerned that the closure of the core grant scheme would leave a significant gap in relation to the strong advocacy role performed by the voluntary and community sectors.
The Minister now intends to establish a new core grant scheme with an innovative component. It is also intended that the new scheme will be open to all voluntary and community organisations. In keeping with the Minister’s commitment to work on a co-design basis, this will include organisations which advocate on behalf of users of health and social care services, ensuring that they have a voice.
Commenting on her plans, Minister O’Neill said: “I want to support voluntary and community sector organisations that can assist with the delivery of my vision for health and social care in the north, with an emphasis on transformation. I have decided to do that by way of providing organisations with funding to support their core functions.
“Many voluntary and community sector organisations work closely with users of health and social care services and can advocate on their behalf. This has the potential to help us shape health and social care services in the future, to make them better and more responsive to the needs of the people of the north who they are intended to serve.”
In the interim, until those proposals are fully developed, the Minister does not intend to further reduce the level of core grant funding provided under the existing scheme until the new core grant scheme is up and running and accepting applications.
Notes to editors:
1. The Department currently provides core granting funding to 65 voluntary and community organisations.
2. A consultation on the new Innovation Scheme closed on 3 June 2016.
3. The purpose of the new Innovation Scheme was to encourage the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sectors to develop innovative approaches to addressing health and social care needs.
4. There has been a phased reduction in core grant funding to the sixty-five voluntary and community organisations. This phased reduction was due to take place over three years with current funding arrangements due to cease in March 2018.
5. Minister O’Neill does not intend to further reduce the level of core funding under the existing scheme until the new core grant scheme is up and running and accepting applications.
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