Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Joint Committee On Children, Equality, Disability, Integration And Youth

Child Poverty: Discussion

Ms Anna Shakespeare:

This speaks to Deputy Costello's and Senator McGreehan's points around the evidence of what has worked in Ireland. At a previous committee meeting on this topic, Senator McGreehan referenced the revitalising areas by planning, investment and development, RAPID, and area-based initiatives. It is about looking at what has worked. We have had RAPID, the local development and social inclusion programmes, the Limerick regeneration framework, for example, and that implementation plan. We currently have the Dublin north-east inner city initiative, the area-based childhood programmes and the community safety initiative of the childhood development initiative. As to the important benefits of area-based initiatives, they all say that they work but they need to include the establishment of structures that allow the communities to participate in the decision-making process.

It is very much a bottom-up development to improve service delivery and increase State investment in areas of high deprivation.

Colleagues have referenced the gaps in alignment with national and regional policy. We need to make sure that if there are area-based initiatives, they are coherent and speak to each other. Clear and effective co-ordination and a shared vision and set of objectives are needed between the regional and national policy, as well as people on the ground to co-ordinate, rather than sending the money out into the system and expecting different parts of it to speak to each other.

The area-based initiatives have made important and strategic financial contributions to local development, but there is a need for a longer-term, large and co-ordinated investment across all areas of development. There is significant evidence to support that.

In terms of what should happen, the learning is limited co-ordination of local initiatives has been one of the areas where we have faltered. There is a need to strengthen leadership across the programmes and strengthen the whole concept and practical aspects of community engagement. Extensive planning should form the key element of future area-based initiatives development. There should be strategies for meaningful community engagement, because some of the reports that we have looked at have said the area becomes full of initiatives and far too busy with them and that they need to be joined up to become coherent.

There is a need to continue to invest in building an evidence base of what works and what does not work. That can guide policy implementation on future investment by the Government.