Thursday, 11 November 2021
Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
I was delighted, as part of the national economic recovery plan, to secure the commitment from the Government to prioritise the development of a basic income guarantee pilot scheme for the arts and cultural sectors. As Minister with responsibility for arts and culture, I am conscious of the value this sector brings to all Irish citizens. It is something we really felt during the Covid-19 pandemic when they were taken from us. The importance of Irish culture, art and productions as a whole cannot be understated and it contributes to individual and societal well-being, as well as contributing to Ireland's reputation as a country with a rich cultural history and output. The intrinsic value of culture and the arts to society was particularly evident during the pandemic, as I mentioned.
Against this backdrop and my own experience of the arts, funding for the basic income guarantee pilot scheme was a key priority of mine for the budget and I secured €25 million to realise the pilot scheme next year. With regard to the timeline for the launch of the pilot, the Deputy will appreciate that this is a major policy intervention requiring significant resources to develop a coherent policy and to operationalise. This work is ongoing and my ambition is to open the scheme for applications during the first quarter of 2022. The oversight group continues to meet regularly and met yesterday with a representative from SIPTU.
My Department will hold a stakeholder consultation forum on 8 December on the basic income guarantee pilot scheme, in particular to tease out the eligibility criteria for the scheme. It is really important we develop the scheme in close consultation with the sector. We will be using a professional facilitator to run a world café method event to ensure the arts sector and resource bodies and representative organisations are given the opportunity to feed into the policy development for the scheme. The selection process for recipients of the basic income will be finalised following the stakeholder engagement early next month. However, I can confirm that participation in the scheme will not be based on a means test and it will be a non-competitive process, so once a person satisfies the eligibility criteria, that person will be included in a randomised selection process. A number of unsuccessful applicants will be invited to participate in a control group to facilitate a comprehensive ex postfacto appraisal of the pilot in due course. Proposals for the parameters of the scheme will be finalised in light of the stakeholder engagement.