Funding and staffing crisis shows no signs of abating
Irish charities working in areas like health, disability and home care may be unable to deliver many services in the coming months due to a staffing crisis directly linked to funding shortfalls.
Umbrella body The Wheel said a lack of government cash has meant the country’s third sector organisations are facing a cash crisis.
Ivan Cooper, the new CEO of The Wheel, said at the body's annual summit at Croke Park, that “enforced pay disparities of 10% and more below that paid to equivalent staff in state agencies like the HSE mean charities simply can no longer recruit and retain qualified staff."
He continued: “We have, at last, an agreement that this matter be addressed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). But unless the WRC produces a speedy and meaningful outcome, essential public services to the most vulnerable in our society will be in immediate jeopardy.”
Cooper added: “The state has for many decades relied on charities to deliver almost one-third of all public services in key areas like health, children, older people, disability, addiction and homelessness.
“It knows we can, and do, deliver. Yet wage cuts imposed after the economic crash over a decade ago - and reversed elsewhere - remain in place for hundreds of section 39, 56 and 10 charities, putting services at risk.
“Addressing the issue of adequate and fair resources would remove a major blockage to ensuring the sustainability of our sector."
This would also include the introduction of multi-annual funding to provide certainty to service delivery as well as measures to assist fundraising charities, such as enhanced measures on philanthropy and realistic allocations to the Charity VAT Compensation Scheme.
“It would allow us to build on our sector’s partnership with the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, our response to the war in Ukraine and the more general overall contribution to maintaining the fabric of Irish society.
“Most importantly, it would deliver on the spirit and ambition contained in the government’s Values and Principles for Collaboration and Partnership Working with Communi ty and Voluntary Sector last year and on the more recent recommendations arising from the Dialogue Forum for Voluntary Organisations .”
Working towards these goals, in partnership with the government, will be the prime focus of The Wheel in the immediate years ahead, Cooper said.
“The charity and community sector in its many iterations and through tens of thousands of volunteers, staff and volunteer board members can contribute even more to our society in the future.
“We must all try to learn from the innovative and flexible methods of working between government, state agencies, charities and community organisations during the Covid crisis. Our society currently continues to face many serious difficulties and challenges including climate change, migration needs, digital transformation and the green transition.
“All these issues require continued, similar innovation and flexibility,” he added.
The Wheel’s Summit is the largest annual gathering of not-for-profit organisations in Ireland.
Forty-six speakers and over 500 delegates, representing 310 organisations, took part in the event.