In the Dáil recently during questions to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I raised several issues regarding the funding of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency but stressed that consultation must take place with the Oireachtas and with stakeholders as to how the funding will be spent.
Raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly the Dáil heard that in 2016, Tusla has a budget of €676 million which is an increase of €38 million. Tusla has received a performance statement from Minister Reilly outlining priorities and objectives for the year which will guide the Agency’s business plan. Tusla has until 20th December to develop and submit the business plan.
Tusla funds very important services such as the services for persons affected by physical, sexual and domestic abuse providing €15 million for 44 organisations providing domestic violence services, including refuges, and €4 million for 16 rape crisis centres. It is important that the service-providers receive funding in 2016 which reflects the increased allocation of funding to Tusla.
It is also important that Tusla engages, consults and communicates with the providers to avoid a previous problem which arose earlier this year when a new approach to the collection of information and statistics on cases of abuse was put in place and brought in house by Tusla. The work was previous undertaken by the Rape Crisis Network Ireland which is based in Galway.
The organisations currently receiving funding from Tusla provide exceptionally important assistance to people in very vulnerable circumstances. With an increased budget of €38 million in funding for 2016 Tusla must increase funding to these organisations.”
Dáil Transcript – Child and Family Agency Funding
Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if, in the context of the €676 million in funding for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for 2016, which is a welcome and significant increase, he has received a business plan from the agency; and if the Houses of the Oireachtas will have an opportunity to examine the intended spending arrangements.
Deputy Seán Kyne: This question asks, in the context of the welcome €676 million in funding for Tusla, whether the Minister has received a business plan from the agency and if the Houses of the Oireachtas will have an opportunity to examine the intended spending commitments.
Minister James Reilly: I am pleased to be able to inform the House that significant extra resources have been allocated to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for 2016. The gross funding allocation for Tusla in 2016 is €676 million, representing an increase of €38 million over the 2015 allocation. This includes €662.4 million in current expenditure and €13.6 million in capital expenditure.
The overall level of funding that I have provided will significantly strengthen Tusla’s base funding level and will give the agency greater capacity to respond to current risk and anticipated demand.
This level of provision addresses key priorities identified by Tusla in pre-budget discussions. It will also give rise to a substantial recruitment programme involving up to 400 additional staff in the agency next year. This increased capital provision will allow for a range of key projects to be initiated and progressed.
In accordance with the agency’s establishing legislation, I have issued a detailed performance statement to inform the preparation of Tusla’s business plan for 2016. This statement sets out the key priorities that I require of Tusla in the coming year. I have since met the board following receipt and initial consideration by Tusla of the 2016 performance statement. In accordance with the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla is required to submit a business plan for 2016 within 30 days of receipt of the performance statement, which issued on 20 November last.
I will be happy to discuss the content of the performance statement and business plan at my next appearance at the relevant Oireachtas committee.
Deputy Seán Kyne: Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht an fhreagra sin agus as ucht an ardaithe mhóir de €38 milliún sa bhuiséad do Tusla don bhliain seo chugainn, agus cuirim fáilte roimh sin. I certainly welcome the increase in funding of €38 million for Tusla this year. I commend the Minister for that and for bringing the figure up to €676 million. I also welcome the €19 million provided by Tusla to the organisations which carry out vital work in relation to physical and sexual abuse, €4 million of which is for the Rape Crisis Centre. In a recent reply to a question, the Minister stated that future planning for domestic violence and sexual violence services will seek to address gaps and avoid duplication. I suppose my concerns relate to the level of consultation and engagement that is taking place, hopefully, between Tusla and the organisations. It is particularly important to avoid the problems which arose when Tusla decided to change the system of collecting statistics and information, which is clearly vital for delivering and designing such schemes. This decision impacted on the Galway Rape Crisis Network, which was previously undertaking this work.
Minister James Reilly: Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta. Caithfidh mé a rá go mbeidh airgead eile againn níos déanaí. Beidh Meastachán Forlíontach ann freisin agus beidh a fhíos agam cé mhéad a bheas i gceist níos déanaí inniu nó b’fhéidir amárach. I am happy that we have additional moneys to address any legacy issues and I will know the precise figure later today or early tomorrow.
As the Deputy will be aware, there are many areas that need to be addressed. One of the big areas has been the issue of unallocated cases. Tusla undertook an audit to get accurate figures on this because they were being measured in different ways in different parts of the country.
It has done a very good job in that regard and I complement it. I asked it to submit a business plan to address the issue, which has been ongoing for decades. It gave me a three-year plan, which it also priced. We have given it the moneys in full to address the issue in the coming year. Three years of additional moneys will have to be in place in order to address the issue.