here - Community Workers` Co

Report
Community Development Post Alignment:
Ensuring Critical Community Work
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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;
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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;
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Reported the process
Organised the national seminar
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Putting People First: Action Programme for Effective
Local Government
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Launched by the Minister for the Environment,
Community and Local Development
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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.
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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:
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a Socio-Economic Committee in each city/county
council for planning and oversight of all local and
community development programmes,
SEC - 15 members from
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Local Authority
Local and community interests
Appropriate state agencies
Replace CDBs
Funding and accountability through SECs
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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,
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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;
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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.
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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.
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Low levels of awareness
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Steering Group - composition & terms of reference
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◦ 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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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