SLPG Funding Criteria and Guidance Notes 2022/23

Key funding priorities

Organisations wishing to apply for a grant from the SLPG must be able to demonstrate how their project meets one or more of the following SLPG funding priorities:

  • personal and social development  programmes to redress the educational academic under achievement for deaf people in order to reach their full potential  and gain better employment prospects
  • building capacity to enable all services to become accessible to allow the sign language user to be fully included
  • building capacity to have sign language recognised officially as a “linguistic and cultural minority “ language in order to develop policy to ensure continued provision of funding and services.
  • building capacity to raise the profile of sign language as a “linguistic and cultural minority” language and a language of “need” for deaf people in order to raise awareness and understanding within the NI community.

Who can apply to the SLPG for funding?

We invite applications from all organisations which meet the following criteria:

  • they are focused on the promotion of respect, understanding and tolerance towards the Deaf community in Northern Ireland
  • they operate best practice in Finance and Governance in accordance with the document “Setting Standards, Improving Performance”

We will also accept applications from organisations and individuals who wish to work collaboratively on a project or projects, subject to the identification of a lead partner willing to accept responsibility for governance arrangements. Paragraph 4 below provides more detail.

Selection process and guidance

The selection process will be in three stages and will be carried out by an assessment panel in the Department for Communities.

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in due course once the assessment process has been carried out.

  • stage 1 – Assessment of Organisation 
  • stage 2 – Assessment  of Project Objectives
  • stage 3 – Funding Decision

Stage 1 – assessment of organisation

Sign Language is the first or preferred language of the Deaf Community in Northern Ireland and organisations applying for funding from the SLPG budget will be required to demonstrate how they meet the following criteria:

  • they are focused on the promotion of    respect, understanding and tolerance towards the Deaf community in Northern Ireland
  • they operate best practice in Finance and Governance in accordance with the document “Setting Standards, Improving Performance”

Organisations will be required to complete an application form and submit a copy of their 2022/23 business plan to allow the Department to assess the extent to which their activities are focused on the promotion of respect, understanding and tolerance towards the Deaf community in Northern Ireland.

As part of the application process organisations are required to confirm that their organisation is governed in line with best practice in Finance and Governance in accordance with the “Setting Standards: Improving Performance” guidance document. This guidance seeks to highlight and illustrate best practice principles which Government would expect to find in a well-run organisation when considering funding requests. It provides a directional and support aid to improving the effectiveness of the sector in the following areas:

  • planning
  • risk management
  • governance and accountability
  • financial management
  • fraud and irregularity
  • audit
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • embedding best practice

This guidance is available online.

Organisations approved for funding from the SLPG budget will be required to complete a corporate governance checklist and produce evidence of the information contained on this prior to a Letter of Offer being issued.

The absence of such standards of best practice and systems will potentially have a bearing on the decision by DfC to award funding.

Organisations applying for funding will be assessed as having either passed or failed Stage 1. Organisations that are assessed as having failed will be eliminated at this stage.

Stage 2 – assessment of project objectives

Only those projects proposed by organisations or groups that have passed Stage 1 of the selection process will progress to Stage 2. Project proposals submitted by organisations that pass stage 1 of the selection process must be completed in line with guidance set out in the NI Guide to Expenditure, Appraisal and Evaluation

Projects must be set out on the business case section of the application and clearly demonstrate how the organisation intends to deliver the priorities established by the SLPG as set out in paragraph 1.

Each applicant must be able to explain, amongst other things:

  1. how they have identified the need for the proposed project ie who will be better off
  2. the benefits which are likely to ensue ie how much will you do and how well will you do it
  3. how the project contributes to the priority areas identified

All projects will be required to clearly define realistic outcomes to be achieved through delivery of the projects. Project proposals assessed by the assessment panel that contribute to the defined priorities and which are assessed as offering value for money will progress to Stage 3 for a decision on whether the project will be funded.

Stage 3 – funding decision

Project proposals assessed by the assessment panel which contribute to the defined priorities set out in paragraph 1 and, which are assessed as offering value for money, will be considered for funding at this final stage. As there is limited SLPG funding available projects will be prioritised in the event of over subscription. Subject to the necessary corporate governance checks being in order as described in paragraph 4, a letter of offer will be issued to successful applicants.

Project proposals

Project proposals submitted with the application should be made on the  SLPG business case template on the online application.

This approach allows organisations to:

  • explain the strategic objective of the proposal
  • demonstrate how the proposal meets the objectives
  • establish the need for expenditure
  • define the objectives using SMART criteria
  • list the options and identify the preferred solution
  • explain the cost/ benefits
  • identify risks and control measures
  • detail an analysis of costs and phasing of expenditure

Following quality assurance and clarification if required, the business case will be considered by the assessment panel in DfC for approval.

Monitoring and project evaluation

Successful projects will be approved for funding subject to the agreement of a Monitoring Plan to ensure that the objectives of the project are being achieved. Successful organisations will be required to meet a DFC official at intervals during the project to discuss the progress of their project against the Monitoring Plan and to verify any expenditure incurred as part of the project, including inspection of invoices and bank statements associated with the project. This may include DFC visits to the organisations’ premises or venues hired as part of the project and any courses, consultations or meetings held as part of the project. The DFC official may wish to speak with participants in the project to gain feedback and assurances that the project is adhering to its objectives both in terms of targeted outcomes and financial propriety. DfC will evaluate from these interactions:

  • how much you are doing
  • how well you are doing it
  • is anyone better off

Any deviations from the monitoring plan must be approved by the SLPG.

At the end of the project, organisations will be required to carry out an evaluation of the project to determine the extent to which the aims and objectives of the SLPG are being met. A post project evaluation template will be supplied to successful applicants.

What will we fund?

Funding can be awarded towards the following areas of project expenditure:

  • staffing costs, including recruitment, travel and training.
  • consultant costs, including travel.
  • administration – items such as printing, publicity materials, stationery and telephone.
  • equipment
  • premises – rent for rooms/ hire charges for other premises associated with the project eg hotel venue for consultations/courses etc – not permanent premises.
  • set up costs for one – off projects and development work.

Please Note:

  • it is important to recognise that the resources available to the SLPG are limited.
  • the list above is not exhaustive, and proposals which incur expenditure not included above will be assessed by the SLPG Secretariat.
  • it may be the case that the Department will not offer full funding for the preferred option of your project but a lesser amount therefore it is important that you fully cost all options.

Scope of funded activities

DfC can only consider funding suitable projects within this financial year i.e. 1 April 2022 – 31st March 2023. In addition, expenditure not accrued at the end of the financial year must be surrendered to the Departmental budget.

Project audit arrangements

Applicants approved for funding will be expected to demonstrate evidence of good Corporate Governance arrangements. Acceptance of this condition will form part of any Letter of Offer. Where applicant groups wish to work together on a collaborative project one of the organisations should be designated as the lead partner and be willing to accept this condition when accepting the Letter of Offer. All documents including invoices and bank statements must be made available to DFC upon request.

Drawdown audit arrangements

Requests for funding must be made via an invoice (not copies) detailing the organisations name, address, telephone, fax, e – mail address and VAT reference (if applicable). Any relevant papers pertaining to the progress of the project, for example 3rd party invoices etc, should be submitted with invoices. A drawdown schedule will be agreed between successful applicants and DFC. The DFC Secretariat reserves the right to request any documentation it feels relevant to the governance of DFC funded projects and, to request progress or final evaluation reports prior to making payments on invoices received.

Post project evaluation

Following completion of the project each applicant is required to carry out an evaluation to determine the extent to which the objectives set out in the original business case have been achieved ie how much did you do, how well did you do it and is anyone better off?

 

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