HSE asks Rehab to account for funds

On April 10, 2011, in Disability Issues, by Paddy

Charities may be required to reveal full financial accountability, as disability organisation faces criticism over high wage packets for bosses
Justine McCarthy

Former Miss World Rosanna Davison helped launch the charity’s online bingo site Former Miss World Rosanna Davison helped launch the charity’s online bingo site

The Sunday Times can reveal that the Rehab Group, Ireland’s largest disability-services charity, has received more than €365m from various state agencies in the past five years.

More than €33m of it came from the Charitable Lotteries Fund, set up to compensate charities for income lost to the National Lottery. Rehab’s total income from the fund since it was established in 1997 exceeds €75m.

It emerged three weeks ago that Angela Kerins, chief executive of Rehab Group, has an annual remuneration package worth more than €400,000. The charity, which employs 3,500 people and has a €200m annual turnover, says senior executives’ salaries are not drawn from state funds.

There is now a disagreement between Rehab and the Department of Health over an ultimatum issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE). On March 29, the HSE told charities in the disability sector they were to sign formal agreements requiring full financial accountability by April 11, or lose their funding.

Tomorrow is the deadline for compliance in signing the service level agreements (SLA), which set out details of the services the charities provide with the money they get from the HSE. The bulk of Rehab’s funding — almost €221m in the past five years — was allocated by the HSE as revenue and capital grants.

According to a spokesman for Kathleen Lynch, the junior minister responsible for the disability sector, Rehab and one other organisation had not signed SLA agreements last Friday evening. Lynch’s spokesman said the need for SLAs was raised by the comptroller and auditor general, who was concerned about accountability in voluntary organisations. The spokesman said the HSE had been working with the groups in recent years to develop agreements, and Lynch is “particularly concerned that two disability organisations, one of which is Rehab, have not yet signalled their willingness to sign SLAs”.

“It is not acceptable that large sums of state funding be provided to any organisation without appropriate accountability for those funds,” he said.

But a spokesman for the Rehab Group said: “We don’t know what they’re talking about. All three of the SLAs we have received have been signed by us. There is nothing outstanding, except one we haven’t received which they [the HSE] told us was going to be in the post. We’ve signed and returned everything we’ve got, up to and including last Friday.”

On Thursday, the HSE met the three umbrella bodies representing the disability sector — the Not for Profit Business Association, Disability Federation of Ireland, and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies. All three indicated that they would advise members to sign the SLA agreements by tomorrow.

“The indications are that Rehab will be signing their service agreement,” said Lynch’s spokesman.

The Department of Education provides substantial funding to Rehab. It allocated grant aid amounting to €4.6m over the past five years to National Learning Network, for the education of young adults with learning disabilities. Another Rehab subsidiary, TBG Learning, a UK-based training provider, has a €7.5m contract with the Department of Education to provide training and employment for 1,900 unemployed people under the auspices of the Labour Market Activation Fund. Rehab won the lion’s share of contracts issued to 55 organisations funded by the €32m fund. The group received €25m last year from Fas, the state training agency.

Rehab’s Scottish subsidiary, Momentum, has received £699,982 (€792,000) from Britain’s Big Lottery Fund since May 2006 to provide services for people with spinal and brain injuries.

State funding to all disability organisations is being examined by the Department of Health in a review due to be completed by the end of this year.


1 Response » to “HSE asks Rehab to account for funds”

  1. Andrew says:

    “an annual remuneration package worth more than €400,000”

    That is a grotesque amount of money. That’s close to €8,000 a week …. about €1,095 a day!

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