Community Development Post Alignment: Ensuring Critical Community Work The CWC undertook the Alignment project because: ◦ The emerging proposals for closer alignment of local development and local government are issues of concern for community work and community workers; ◦ Community work/community development is largely invisible because it has been subsumed under local development; ◦ CWC members and others were telling us that information was scant & there was no space to discuss the issues or potential impact; A series of 10 workshops around the country that: ◦ presented the information available from the Interim Report of the Steering Group for the Alignment of Local Government and Local Development; ◦ Gave space for participants to discuss implications for the communities in which they live and work; Reported the process Organised the national seminar Putting People First: Action Programme for Effective Local Government Launched by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Development a significantly increased role for local government in local and community development programmes in the context of alignment of that sector with the local government system ◦ for devolution of responsibility for a range of further local services and functions to local government, and ◦ greater involvement of local government in other matters. Local government will have a more central role in the oversight and planning of local and community development programming, while maintaining a key role for local development entities in frontline delivery. Revised arrangements on foot of the report of the Steering Group will be put in place on a phased basis over the period 2012-2014 involving the following specific measures: a Socio-Economic Committee in each city/county council for planning and oversight of all local and community development programmes, SEC - 15 members from ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Local Authority Local and community interests Appropriate state agencies Replace CDBs Funding and accountability through SECs a 5-year City/County Local and Community Plan encompassing all State funded local and community development interventions as part of the City/County Development Plan, an inter-departmental group to secure a ‘whole-of-government approach’ to local and community development programmes and interventions. IDG to: ◦ Develop plan ◦ Lead and oversee the implementation of a coherent whole-ofgovernment approach to planning, management and delivery of local and community development programmes and interventions. ◦ Drive and oversee change management IDG to be small, for 3 years with clear terms of reference Led by senior DECLG official Govt departments with direct involvement CCMA representative ILDN a national policy on local and community development to establish a framework for a cross-government approach at local level - should set out national priorities and a framework for the realisation of a cross government approach at local level. a shared approach to the determination of administration budgets by Government Departments/State agencies, common systems of measurement and impact assessment to facilitate a more effective targeting of resources, involving external evaluation, alignment of the local and community development programme with city/county boundaries, as far as possible. City/County Development Boards will be wound down in view of the significant changes in local government functions, structures and governance, but work under way and relevant to the new structural arrangements will be followed through to completion in 2012. The potential for more far reaching expansion of the local government remit will be pursued as the reforms across the local government system take effect. The capacity of local authorities will be utilised as fully as possible to work with or on behalf of other bodies in undertaking relevant functions and services locally. Building on its role in developing sustainable communities, the potential for a wider local government leadership and co-ordination role locally will be explored, for example, in relation to sectors such as education, health and welfare. Capacity Building and Change Management ◦ Managed by DECLG & IDG ◦ Exploration of provisions for capacity building in EU CLLD 2014-20 ◦ LEADER SEC to be considered to implement the LEADER approach in 2014-20 EU Programmes Round The CWC undertook the Alignment project: ◦ With the support of the Community Foundation for Ireland; ◦ Voluntary support of CWC members and others ; ◦ Support of community organisations and networks around the country. A sincere thanks to all IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY WORK ◦ A reassertion of the importance of community work, particularly during the current recession, as a key intervention to addressing many of the growing social issues. ◦ In short a reassertion of community work as an approach to addressing poverty, socially exclusion and inequalities in a way that emphasises participation, empowerment and collective action; CUTS TO COMMUNITY WORK ◦ Working within a sector that has been cut by 35%; ◦ Many have experienced cuts to budgets of over 15% cumulative effect of cuts experienced by the community sector over the past number INCREASED DEMAND ◦ cuts to public services and increased levels of unemployment has resulted in an increased demand for community services that many are now struggling to meet. Changes to structures and delivery mechanisms ◦ The cohesion process resulted in significant changes to the organisations that many of the participants represented. Many of those organisations, funded until recently by the Community Development Programme as independent, autonomous organisations, had merged with their Local Devlopment Companies, with a significant number stating that this process had been detrimental to community work. Low levels of awareness Steering Group - composition & terms of reference ◦ few participants had any significant knowledge of the process ◦ even though they and their organisations may be significantly affected by the proposals in the report. ◦ A more general point was made in relation to the absence of information and policy analysis available to community sector organisations, particularly since the Community Workers’ Co-operative lost its core funding and staff team. ◦ composition - criticised for failing to include representatives with experience of community work and local development. ◦ terms of reference -criticised for anticipating a desired outcome rather than being an exploratory or review process. Community development and local development ◦ For many participants, a striking aspect of the Alignment Report is that there is no attempt at making a differentiation between community development and local development. Concern at the prospect of local authorities being given increased responsibility for community work and local development. ◦ existence of an independent civil society is central to the idea of a healthy democracy. ◦ failure on the part of the state to engage with local, particularly marginalised, communities was a key impetus for the development of local and community development structures - This has not changed ◦ participants generally in favour of a strengthened local government system but not be at the expense of an independent civil society. ◦ community development provides some sense of decision-making at local level, supporting people to make decisions that affect their lives, particularly in disadvantaged communities. ◦ threatened by recent restructuring processes ◦ a move to give local authorities increased decision-making and responsibilities would compound and aggravate this. Concern at the prospect of local authorities being given increased responsibility for community work and local development. ◦ existence of an independent civil society is central to the idea of a healthy democracy. ◦ failure on the part of the state to engage with local, particularly marginalised, communities was a key impetus for the development of local and community development structures - This has not changed ◦ participants generally in favour of a strengthened local government system but not be at the expense of an independent civil society. ◦ community development provides some sense of decision-making at local level, supporting people to make decisions that affect their lives, particularly in disadvantaged communities. ◦ threatened by recent restructuring processes ◦ a move to give local authorities increased decision-making and responsibilities would compound and aggravate this. ◦ Concern that there would be no structures to hold local authorities to account for bad practice or for failing to implement national policy at local level A number of assertions made by the Alignment Steering Group were contested or rejected: ◦ expertise in community development has been developed within local authorities ◦ a more co-ordinated and integrated approach to local service provision based on an enhanced role for local government would deliver enhanced administrative - Bigger does not necessarily mean better or more effective/efficient ◦ The City/County Development Boards are the only interagency, strategic planning and delivery framework at local level. ◦ That the local development sector operates with little accountability to local democratic structures - endorsement A number of assertions made by the Alignment Steering Group were contested or rejected: ◦ expertise in community development has been developed within local authorities ◦ a more co-ordinated and integrated approach to local service provision based on an enhanced role for local government would deliver enhanced administrative - Bigger does not necessarily mean better or more effective/efficient ◦ The City/County Development Boards are the only interagency, strategic planning and delivery framework at local level. ◦ That the local development sector operates with little accountability to local democratic structures - endorsement Attention was drawn to the fact that the proposed approach is in potential conflict with that proposed by the European Commission for the next round of cohesion funds, which proposes a single methodology regarding Community Led Local Development for the CSF Funds, which: ◦ Focuses on specific sub-regional territories; ◦ Is community-led, by local action groups composed of representatives of local public and private socio-economic interests; ◦ Is carried out through integrated and multi-sectoral area-based local development strategies, ◦ Designed taking into consideration local needs and potential; ◦ Includes innovative features in the local context, networking and, where appropriate, co-operation. There can be no doubt that Ireland is currently experiencing significant economic difficulties. ◦ Poverty, debt – all rising ◦ Those on lowest incomes are suffering most – EU SILLC figures and ESRI The impact and outcome of this is an increase in social issues - that the community sector, drawing on principles and approaches such as empowerment, participation and collective action, focuses attention Community development has proven its worth over the years, particularly in times of recession. However, to be most effective community work needs to have a certain amount of independence and to be acknowledged as having legitimacy and purpose in its own right. Draws on the White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary sector - still the official policy of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Development. drawing on the principles underpinning the White Paper the report question the processes of cohesion, integration and, particularly, alignment and their impact on community development. it is important to draw attention to the fact that community development and local development are increasingly and erroneously being presented as one and the same. They are not. Conceptually and operationally, they are two distinct approaches Local government has a legitimate democratic role However, there are also democratic deficits in local authority make-up, and considerable degree of suspicion and mistrust, particularly from marginalised communities and minority groups. Community Work ◦ Expression of participatory democracy ◦ Key element of civil society ◦ Ensuring accountability Cohesion and integration process have undermined community participation Local and Community Development Programme has made addressing poverty, social exclusion and inequality using community work principles, difficult and challenging. The focus on numbers and outputs within current programmes fails to capture the community work focus on outcomes that represent much more meaningful and sustainable solutions. There is a considerable concern that this negative trend will intensify under the Alignment process and that communities will become even more separated from the processes that are intended to address their needs and from the decision making processes that affect their lives. This current process of alignment between local development and local government threatens to further undermine critical community work. It is difficult to reconcile these processes, and the impact they have had, and will continue to have, on work to address poverty, social exclusion and inequality, with the principles and aspiration of the White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary sector. To be effective, community work needs to operate independently from the State and its institutions Community development requires autonomy and full participation by the marginalised communities that are its constituency if it is to contribute to addressing and reversing the outcomes and impacts of the recession. Community development does this best when resourced as an independent measure. This does not compromise its ability to be accountable, either for its actions and their impact or for funding to support its work. The CWC therefore recommends that: ◦ Autonomous community work that addresses poverty, social exclusion and inequality using principles such as empowerment, participation and collective action be enabled outside of any realignment of structures; ◦ Real participation of communities affected by decisions is prioritised at all levels, including directing and monitoring work; ◦ A restatement of the principles and aspirations of the White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary sector with the development of a policy framework that will enable the implementation of the White Paper in a way that complements rather than contradicts its underpinning principles.