Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Question 46: To ask the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he is taking to facilitate the expansion of the role of integrated development companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45965/10]
Question 56: To ask the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the various community development projects here; if he has had further meetings with their representative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46051/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 56 together.
As the Deputies will be aware, my Department has, over the past number of years, been pursuing a process of cohesion of local delivery structures in order to simplify and enhance the effectiveness of the delivery of a range of local development programmes.
The realignment of local delivery structures has reduced the overall number of local development bodies from 94 to 52. These comprise 15 Local Development Companies (LDCs) in urban areas and 37 integrated LEADER/LDC bodies in rural areas. These entities are all independent companies limited by guarantee.
The current phase of this work, which is now well advanced, is focused on integrating the various Community Development Projects across the country with the LDCs and this process, which has been the subject of extensive engagement with the various stakeholders, is due to be completed by the end of this year.
In this context, the Deputies may be aware that a national model involving full integration was set out by my Department. However, it was made clear that other options could be considered as long as they meet a range of criteria, including reduced structures, better integrated delivery of services, supporting efficiencies and reducing company law compliance requirements for CDPs. To date, I have approved four alternative models put forward by HSE South, the Limerick City CDPs/Paul Partnership, the Women's Sector CDPs and Northside Partnership. A small number of other alternative models remain under active consideration by my Department and the groups involved will be advised of the outcome shortly.
In terms of the work of the LDCs, my Department has extensive and ongoing engagement with the companies and provides funding to them to implement a number of programmes which enhance their capacity to be key facilitators of development in their respective areas. These programmes include:
The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) which superseded the Local Development Social Inclusion and the Community Development Programmes from the beginning of this year. As part of its overall goals, the LCDP supports individuals into employment and self-employment through education, training, work experience, job placement, enterprise and the social economy in urban and rural areas. Funding of €67.5m has been made available in 2010 for the Programme.
The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 under which funding of the order of €425m is available. The main objectives of the Programme are to improve the quality of life in rural areas and facilitate the diversification of the rural economy. Funding is available under a number of specific measures, which include, for example, the encouragement of tourism activities, support for business creation and development, village renewal and development and basic services for the economy and the rural population. The Programme has facilitated access to significant financial resources to rural communities since it commenced. This has resulted in the proliferation of innovative and sustainable development projects all over the country, which are providing invaluable support to rural communities in these difficult times.
My Department will continue to work closely with the companies over the coming years to assist them in achieving positive outcomes for the communities they serve. As I have said in the past, my primary concern is to make every effort by minimising overheads and ancillary costs to ensure that the front-line services provided by - or supported through - my Department, especially those focused on the needs of the most disadvantaged communities, are protected.