Thursday, 11 July 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Rural Development Policy
I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 889 together.
I am satisfied that my Department delivers an effective package of supports which strengthen rural and urban communities. Funding priorities are reviewed and monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure our supports remain targeted at those most in need socially and economically.
The social inclusion and community activation plan, SICAP, is the largest social inclusion intervention in the State. The current programme, which runs from 2018 to 2022, was launched last year and will provide approximately €38 million this year for communities in need. SICAP allocations to areas are informed by the Pobal Haase deprivation index, which measures the relative affluence or disadvantage of areas within the State. This ensures that the programme is targeting disadvantage. Other relevant programmes, supports and interventions funded by my Department include the provision of €6.5 million towards the regeneration of the Dublin north-east inner city, NEIC.
My Department also funds the community services programme, which is currently being reviewed and has €46 million available to support community organisations in 2019. The community enhancement programme, born out of a review of the RAPID programme and communities facilities scheme, addresses disadvantage in urban and rural communities and allocated €13 million to more than 3,000 projects in its first year. The 2019 scheme was launched in May last with an allocation of €4.5 million.
My Department also continues to develop policy that can assist with the effective targeting of future funding. We are engaging with communities throughout the country on a new Government rural development policy to follow on from the Action Plan for Rural Development, a cross-Government plan to support economic and social development in Ireland’s rural areas. An implementation plan for the framework policy for local and community development in Ireland, as well as Ireland’s first national policy on social enterprise, are also at an advanced stage of development. In addition, the rural regeneration and development fund will provide €1 billion over the next ten years for rural towns and villages, while the town centre living initiative, a pilot programme aimed at testing approaches to the revitalisation of towns and villages, was rolled out in six towns across the country in 2018.
The Department is confident that all the initiatives it is delivering will combine to have a significant positive impact on all communities, rural and urban, both socially and economically.