SAEP would like to commend the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Lotteries Board on some positive proposed amendments that, if implemented correctly, will certainly improve the functioning of the NLDTF and civil society’s access to much-needed funding.
Our detailed comments and recommendations follow:
Comments relating to Part II of the Regulations
1. In particular, we welcome the insertion of Regulation 3A of Part II – with some reservations about certain sub-regulations. By placing a time limit on the adjudication of applications, the NLB is expressing its intent to ensure that applicants are not left waiting for up to two years without receiving notice of the outcome of their applications. We view this intent as a very positive development and we support it wholeheartedly.
2. We acknowledge that the proposed Regulation 2(a) of Part II requires the Lotteries Commission to provide administrative support in order to facilitate the adjudication of applications for funding by the Distribution Agencies. However, we are concerned that these duties are not clearly enough articulated to ensure that the Distributing Agencies are able to meet their deadlines as per Regulation 3A of Part II.
3. We are similarly concerned that Distributing Agencies may fall too easily into a cycle of relying on the relaxations provided in Regulation 3A(2), which effectively allow for the 150 days adjudication process to be extended to 194 days. Regulation 6 of Part II of the existing (2010) Regulations allows for an additional 30 days before applicants are notified, thereby leaving the applicant without any final outcomes for a possible total 224 days from their application dates. This delay relates only to the notification of applicants and does not take into account the period of time between notification and payment which can be considerable in our experience, in spite of the current regulations which indicate that payment will be made within 60 days of the grant agreement being signed and received. These delays can have devastating effects on organisations that may then only receive NLDTF funding towards the end of their planning and budgeting cycles. We therefore strongly recommend that the Distributing Agencies should ensure that applicants receive final notice of their adjudication results within a maximum time period of 150 days from their application dates, and that maximum time periods for payments of grants also be enforced.
4. We welcome the provisions set out in the proposed Regulation 10 of Part II, which we believe will effectively contribute to the sustainable development of developing organisations and will protect them from being exploited by any unscrupulous agents.
5. While this is not addressed in the Draft Amendment Regulations, we strongly advocate that all Distributing Agencies should publish calls for proposals annually. This would allow potential beneficiaries to include possible NLDTF funding in their annual plans and budgets, eliminating much of the current uncertainty that many organisations experience around NLDTF funding. We call for Regulation 1 of Part II to therefore specify that a Distribution Agency must call for applications AT LEAST once a year.
Comments relating to Part III of the Regulations
6. We welcome and support the proposed insertion of Part III to the Regulations. The proposed Regulation 2 of Part III outlines a transparent and accessible process of appeal for applicants.
Comments relating to the Regulations Relating to Allocation of Money in NLDTF
7. We strongly recommend that the allocations made for charitable expenditure should be higher, to help to meet the growing funding needs of charitable organisations which in most cases serve more vulnerable sectors of the population. The percentage of the total amount should therefore be increased from 47% as specified in the proposed amendments to 67%.
8. We oppose the proposed insertion of Regulation 14, as it is currently worded. It would need to clarify what is meant by from the date of receipt of that grant. The existing wording could be interpreted as preventing applicants from applying for further funding for 12 months after receiving their final tranche. We agree in principle that it is acceptable for limits to be placed on the frequency of applicants being awarded grants, so that applicants do not receive overlapping grants from the same Distributing Agencies. However, the proposed amendment will result in organisations experiencing long gaps between being eligible for further funding, especially if calls for applications are made infrequently and/or if tranches are paid late. We strongly advocate for this amendment to be revisited thoroughly and reworded so as not to exclude applicants from reapplying within a reasonable time frame. We will support a Regulation that guides funding distribution cycles in a way that allows applicants to be awarded grants without long gaps between the grants. We also advocate that applicants should be able to continue to receive multiple concurrent grants from different Distributing Agencies for different projects.
9. We welcome the proposed Regulation (15) that allows for multi-year grants of up to 3 years, but oppose the restriction within this Regulation of multi-year grants for the Charities Sectoronly. We strongly feel that all sectors should allow multi-year grants, so that applicants who submit strong, comprehensive and viable applications can enjoy the same security.