Equity Diversity Interdependence
Promoting a Peaceful and Fair
Society based on Reconciliation
and Mutual Trust.
21 February 2012
Community Relations Council Office Belfast 21st February
COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL
|NAME OF MEETING:||Victims & Survivors Committee|
|VENUE:||Community Relations Council Office Belfast|
|DATE:||11.30am on 21st February 2012|
|COMMITTEE:||Leon Litvack (chair), Katie Hanlon, Rosie McCorley, Sean Coll, Sheena Funston, Hazel Francey, Eamonn Oakes, David Russell.|
|VICTIMS SERVICE:||Anne Dorbie|
|STAFF:||Brian Mullan, Jacqueline Irwin, Michaela Mackin, Verna Harper (minutes)|
WELCOME & APOLOGIES
The Chair welcomed those present and noted apologies from Maureen Hetherington.
Declarations of interest were requested and Ms Funston declared that she had a connection with Wave Omagh and Derry branches.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as a true and accurate record of the proceedings.
Regarding Item 3.2 it was re-emphasised that unsuccessful groups may need a three month wind down period and the Department was asked to confirm that this would be available. Mr. Robinson stated that the Department would consider any such request.
Regarding Item 5.1 it was confirmed that a recommendation template had been circulated to Committee members.
It was noted that the Council are still awaiting a letter of offer from the Department. It was confirmed by the Department that it should be issued in the next few days. An immediate decision is also required about the business case for additional staff, this is now long overdue and concern was strongly noted. Frustration at the delays was expressed by both the Department and Committee.
It was confirmed that 55 bids were initially received and 4 in a further call.
It was queried whether the team would be able to complete the assessments within the time frame required and queried if letters of offer should be ready for groups by 2 April 2012. It was confirmed that this should be possible but only if the Council receive the letter of offer and approval of business case for additional staffing resources in the next few days.
It was also noted that letters of offer to groups would be contingent on the Department providing advice and any drafting changes to the wording of the letter of offer and contractual agreement being issued to successful group. This relates to who the contract will be issued from. The deadline for receipt of information as 9 March was outlined previously to the Department (and copied to the Victims & Survivors Service). Once confirmation has been received from the Department on 9 March, letters of offer for the groups will be prepared in draft form by the administration team while the papers are being read by the committee.
There will be peer review meetings on 6/7 March for the SSF assessment team.
The Department extended their apologies for the delays and the Chair commended the team for their excellent work especially in view of an extremely tight timeline.
STRATEGIC SUPPORT FUND APPLICATIONS (FOR ECONOMIC APPRAISAL)
Committee were informed that the SSF applications presented to them were for bids in excess of £500k and therefore the proposals would require an economic appraisal if committee were agreeable to proceed. The rationale for viewing these proposals so quickly was to enable economic appraisals to be undertaken and work undertaken in preparation for letters of offer to be released in April. The committee were informed that the applications would need to be fully considered with every other SSF bid at the March residential meetings whereupon funding allocations would be made.
Staff noted that the team had spent some time in peer review discussions and in relation to the demands on the SSF budget, some of the cost headings that were outlined for possible approval may change and alter for consistency purposes.
It was noted that procurement of economic appraisal consultants had been done and committee agreed to this expenditure further to the confirmation from the Department of such necessary spend.
The Chair noted that it is Council policy to ensure all confidential papers relating to bids are left with staff for shredding, all Committee members were asked to comply with this request.
WAVE TRAUMA CENTRE
Ms Funston exited the meeting
In accordance with previous practice this organization will receive 1 letter of offer for 5 centres. They are a parallel service provider and meet the standards for governance and eligibility.
Several queries were raised with regard to information on the ‘MYMOP’ scoring system for complementary therapies, discrepancies in the travel allowed between centres (to be checked) and the ineligibility of clients from Republic of Ireland using the Derry centre. This latter issue may need to be re-assessed under the new Victims & Survivors Service. The need for consistency was emphasised. It was also confirmed that Peace are funding the Youth STAR Programme.
The possibility of double funding was raised but it was confirmed that this would be subject to checking.
The costs for the guest speaker at the conference were also queried and are to be discussed with the Economic Appraisers.
Each application was then considered individually:
Mental Health and Wellbeing
This was considered to be a very strong workplan with robust policies in place. Capped rates were applied and it was considered good value for money.
Capped rates were applied. Members were advised that the cap has been relaxed on respite and residential in terms of the number of trips allowed –however the amounts awarded will remain the same. The cap has also been removed on welfare advice. It was noted that the drop-in costs are quite considerable and might be reduced. This is to be discussed as part of the Economic Appraisal (EA).
There is more emphasis on personal development in this application. The costs are low and capped rates have been applied.
Truth Justice Acknowledgement
This was considered a fairly reasonable application apart from the appointment of 2 officers for HET. Discussion ensued as to whether the Strategic Support Fund was the most appropriate means of funding advocacy and it was decided not to recommend funding for the officers’ posts. It was noted however that there is a push to expand in this area and members concluded that the consultants appointed could discuss this with the Commission. The EA Consultants should look at these positions in greater detail.
It was noted that a sizeable programme has been applied for but the majority of the work is likely to be funded by the Peace Programme leaving only the befriending work to be financed by Victims.
Members were informed that both organizations undergoing economic appraisal are not timely with their monitoring returns. Wave claim that this is due to their internal audit structure. It was therefore suggested that both these groups should have a condition in their contracts relating to the timely delivery of monitoring forms. It was also reported that Wave have a tendency to underspend which they claim is due to a lack of flexibility in the schemes.
Committee noted that Wave has applied for tarmacking – this was not allowed.
David Russell now entered the meeting.
A number of costs were deemed ineligible and staff training was not allowed. A discrepancy in salaries was noted; this was due to length of service and whether full time or part time.
It was also confirmed that membership of professional bodies is now a requirement and should therefore should be an eligible cost where any such membership impacts on the ability of the group to fulfill the minimum practice standards set out by the Commission.
This was considered value for money with no caps placed on counselling.
No decorating costs were allowed.
This was noted as a substantial request. An additional number of posts were requested and do not appear to be really necessary. They have applied for funding exceeding the capped rates for complementary therapies but a certain amount of flexibility will be allowed due to outreach into other geographical areas.
Advice will be sought on the appointment of a HET officer. Again the complimentary therapies exceed the capped rates due to outreach into other geographical areas.
The Committee noted that there were discrepancies in the salaries in the various centres – this will be addressed during the economic appraisal stage.
Ms Funston re-entered the meeting.
Rosie McCorley left the meeting and Jacqueline Irwin entered
At this point the Acting CEO delivered an update on Fair. A meeting has taken place with OFMDFM and a further meeting is scheduled this week to obtain legal advice on the way forward. It was reported that the group are minded to go to a judicial review, from correspondence received.
Jacqueline Irwin left the meeting.
RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE
This group meets the threshold for eligibility.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
This was reported to be a good high scoring workplan. Again they have applied for considerably more than the capped rates for complementary therapies due to outreach. The possibility was discussed of having capped rates for the Belfast and Dungannon offices as well as outreach.
Respite and drop-in costs were limited, welfare advice was deemed eligible. It was noted that the classes were low cost and more about social interaction than training.
Some courses are accredited and costs are modest.
Truth Justice Acknowledgement
It was noted that the group are requesting HET case workers – the organisation has a history of advocacy support. This is a substantial programme and includes a piece of research which would need to be approved by the Commission. A round table has also been requested and discussion ensued as to whether this should include the Victims Service and other groups. A number of items were deemed ineligible as detailed in the officer’s report. Committee would need to know more information on the conference programme and wish to know if others within the sector are to be included in the round table. Further clarification will be sought.
Sean Coll left the meeting.
The group has applied for the maximum amount eligible but the funding may be covered by the Peace Programme.
Funding for training in their monitoring system was deemed ineligible. It was noted that the new Victims Service will provide its own monitoring system.
Discussion again returned to the topic of eligibility as a victim and it was noted that clarification is needed on this topic. It was emphasised that this is not a matter for the committee to decide and that the Department will need to review the issue.
A special request has been received from the group to purchase two ipads rather than musical instruments as detailed within their contracts. The rationale was outlined fully in the paper presented to the committee. These would be added to the group’s assets register. This was approved by committee.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
A discussion around the eligibility of ‘new’ victims for funding and whether there is or can be a ‘cut off’ date. There is no definitive answer to this question. The Director noted that the Council and the Committee have not been provided with guidance on this matter from the Department or the Commission for Victims & Survivors. The Programme team had drawn up a matrix of the mechanisms used by groups to determine end beneficiaries as victims and survivors and this was used in the assessment of SSF and DGS applications. It was noted that this issue will require to be reviewed.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next committee meeting (residential) will take place in the Galgorm Hotel on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 March 2012.
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