Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-199)




  180. Before calling Mr Clarke, in terms of what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers' report, was that commissioned by yourselves or by somebody else?
  (Ms Lyner) The way these things generally work in our environment is at the end of the founding period the funder would identify a sum of money which would be paid to us on the understanding that that then produced an independent evaluation report, independent meaning by an external body, and we, the funder, the external body and any other interested party would be involved in drawing up the terms of reference for that evaluation. In our understanding that would be external, although the payment would have been made through us.

  181. It will become clear to us when we see the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report but I am quite clear that it involves the actual outgoing costs of dealing with case after case. Does it also look at the opportunity cost to Northern Ireland of that person going into exile, in other words what that person would be contributing in Northern Ireland if he or she had not gone?
  (Mr Conway) I cannot honestly recall, Chairman, the last time I read it was about five years ago.

  182. And you are not conscious of anybody else having done a study of that sort?
  (Mr Conway) I am not aware of any.

Mr Clarke

  183. Good afternoon. In your letter submitted to the Committee of 24 July, and earlier on, you referred to an independent evaluation of Base 2 services by Professor Harry Mika. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe you said you are hoping for that to be concluded early in the New Year?
  (Ms Lyner) Yes.

  184. Could you open up for the Committee a little bit more as to the workings of that evaluation in terms of what its objectives were and how that evaluation is taking place and what sorts of things is Professor Mika looking at?
  (Ms Lyner) We are very happy to send you the terms of reference. I referenced earlier that was aspirational, we had not secured the resources at that stage. We have just now secured the resources and we are moving to finalise the terms of reference in terms of the evaluation. We are happy to send you what papers we have available immediately and to send those along with the previous evaluation and when that evaluation is concluded to send you that as well, but it is not as far on as we might have hoped.

  185. Would it be fair to say that it would be an evaluation of the statistical evidence? Will Professor Mika be visiting and looking at the project?
  (Ms Lyner) Yes. I think it will be a quantitative analysis. It will be a qualitative analysis in terms of practice. To be useful for the future it needs to have some sort of view as to what our business is likely to be in the next period so we might look with those appropriate in terms of maintenance and the securing of ongoing resourcing. We need to look to the future as well.
  (Mr Conway) Without prejudicing the outcomes, one of the key elements of it will be around an exit strategy and what that will look like and what would the demise of Base 2 look like. We have to address those two points in the evaluation, I think they are going to be features of it.
  (Ms Lyner) Could I just add that a standard element of just about all the evaluations that we would be involved in commissioning would also require an input from all the stakeholders, whether those putting resources in or referral processes, as well as some feedback from the individuals who have been to the service, so some input from clients in terms of what they have felt the value of the service has been to them. Hopefully that will be a relatively comprehensive set of papers in relation to those issues.

  186. A different subject but included in the text: you mentioned that on a short-term basis you have taken up a contract under the Asylum Seekers' Programme. Could you say what impact the workings of that short-term contract and programme has had on your Base 2 work? Did they fit together well or were they run separately?
  (Ms Lyner) No, they were run alongside each other. I think it would have put tremendous pressure on resources that we have for us to do that. I have to say that we started the year with very little resources in place, so in terms of making ourselves exist and stay in place we had to do that piece of work. If we can talk about the time frame that it was in, the Loyalist feud and the work that we were involved with in terms of the Housing Executive, one member of staff suffered tremendous pressure in relation to that. Probably, happily, we were not extremely busy in the asylum seekers work. I imagine in terms of throughput it would be nothing like the issues we have evidenced here. Without doubt it was useful to us because of the money we were going to attract because of that. It was at a time when a lot of other issues were ongoing in Northern Ireland. I suppose what was helpful in making the connection work with the Home Office was the fact that we had a basic network of processes in place, a system in place, and all the issues in terms of location, dislocation, in connection with hostels, organising travel, the connection to hospitals, to child care issues, to children's schooling issues, were all practices and policies we had in place. In a very quick response we were able to do something that fitted the needs of the Home Office at that stage. It was something useful for us, if extremely pressurising at the time.

  187. Would I be right in thinking that the majority of those that you were working for under the short-term contract, the asylum seekers, were Kosovan and Somalian in terms of their nationality?
  (Ms Lyner) Romanian I think it was.

  188. Okay. One of the things that you cannot put into figures is the fact that their referrals would have been through a totally different source—
  (Ms Lyner) Yes, absolutely. And they are not counted in any statistics.

  189. And they are not counted in any statistics. One of the issues with asylum seekers, of course, would have been intimidation because of race.
  (Ms Lyner) Absolutely.

  190. And that would have been recorded separately, would it?
  (Ms Lyner) Yes.

  Mr Clarke: That has answered my questions, Chairman, thank you.

Mr McCabe

  191. Good afternoon. Can I just start by being clear that the money you received through the Making Belfast Work programme, was that specifically to support the re-entry of excluded persons?
  (Ms Lyner) Making Belfast Work was the name of the organisation that was funding this area of work up until about 18 months ago. When we received money from Making Belfast Work it was probably in the years 1993-96.

  192. What was that money for?
  (Ms Lyner) That was to run the Base 2 programme which was to provide the services that were in place to locate safely individuals who were under threat. That funding was for three years and after that the Probation Board picked up the funding for a period of time. We are now in receipt of a new contract for funding from BRO, which is Making Belfast Work in a new guise. The money we have got for that is about the re-entry programme.

  193. So the initial money was not specifically for re-entry?
  (Ms Lyner) No, it was not actually for safe movement.

  194. What is BRO?
  (Ms Lyner) Belfast Regeneration Office.

  195. Thank you. Can you tell me, how much money did you get between 1993-96 through the Making Belfast Work programme?
  (Ms Lyner) I could not tell you accurately but the evaluation will show that. Something of the order of £80,000 a year.

  196. What proportion of your budget does that represent?
  (Ms Lyner) The years change—

  197. Roughly.
  (Ms Lyner) NIACRO's budget as an organisation would probably have been about £4 million at that stage in that period of time.

  198. What about the money you have received through the Peace and Reconciliation Programme, how much have you received through that and what is that money being used for?
  (Ms Lyner) The organisation receives a lot of money from the Peace and Reconciliation funding. Actually a very small element of that would be for Base 2. The majority of the money that we would receive from Peace and Reconciliation would be in the area of training ex-offenders and ex-prisoners for re-entry into the world of work and would in the main be what we would term ordinary prisoners. Also, we have received money from Peace and Reconciliation to undertake work with young people. We have received a lot of money through Peace and Reconciliation to try and see whether some of the innovative programmes we felt would be appropriate in our community would work and some of them have. In the last couple of years we have had a small amount of money also to support the work of Base 2.

  199. I am not sure if your earlier answer to Mr Hunter covered this, if it did, forgive me, I am just trying to be clear. I am interested in the notion of the re-entry work for persons excluded. Could you say a little bit about how you go about that kind of work? What is it you do to assist or secure re-entry?
  (Ms Lyner) We need to state that we have only had a contract since the beginning of April. It is early in the process at this stage of establishment of people coming into post and taking on responsibilities there.

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