Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Rural and Community Development

Community Development Projects

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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1170. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he is considering ways to fund many rural and community organisations whose programmes and funding have been cut due to the cancellation of programmes through Covid-19 such as an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6065/20]

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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My Department continues to provide funding through its schemes and programmes to Local Development Companies, such as the organisation referenced by the Deputy.

The LEADER 2014-2020 programme remains operational through the COVID-19 crisis and payments continue to be made to the Local Action Groups, their Implementing Partners and to project promoters. Local Development Companies such as the one mentioned by the Deputy continue to receive ongoing financial support, for their operating and personnel costs, to enable them continue to deliver the LEADER programme in their area through the COVID-19 crisis.

Through the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), the Department provides funding to Local Development Companies, such as the organisation referenced by the Deputy. This allows Local Development Companies to carry out work to tackle poverty and social exclusion, both through one-to-one interventions and other initiatives. SICAP is co-funded from the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. The organisation referenced by the Deputy delivers SICAP in County Westmeath. The 2020 budget allocation for Westmeath is €804,985 and this is being paid out as expected during the year.

My Department is also providing additional vital supports to rural and community organisations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is supporting the following initiatives:

- The Community Services Programme, or CSP, currently supports over 400 community organisations. My Department is committed to supporting these organisations during this time and has recently developed the 2020 Support Fund. The Fund will provide an additional once off payment to cover a 12-week period from 26 March 2020. For full-time CSP supported employees, an enhanced CSP contribution will be provided so that employers can pay a maximum of €350 net per week, with a proportionate amount for part-time CSP supported employees.

- On 16 March 2020, my Department launched the COVID-19 Government Action Plan in partnership with other Departments, State agencies and our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations. These initiatives provide support for volunteering, funding to ALONE for their crisis telephone support line, and an email helpdesk facility to assist smaller community groups with their queries.

-On 9 April 2020, an initial €2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund was introduced to provide immediate and urgently needed funding to community and voluntary groups that are participating in the Government’s “Community Call” initiative which is being led by the Local Authorities.

- On Friday 8 May 2020, I announced a €35 million Covid-19 Stability Fund, from the Dormant Accounts Fund, to provide a level of support to qualifying organisations who are most in need and have seen their trading and/or fund-raising income drop significantly during the crisis.

- The Fund opened for applications on 11 May 2020. The closing date is 20 May 2020 at 5pm. Further details can be found on my Department's website at or the website of Pobal at

- Applications to the scheme can be located on the link: COVID-19 Stability Fund:

- There is also a commitment to a Philanthropy Fund (Innovate Together), which will focus on supporting responses to the COVID-19 crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging challenges. The Fund is supported by a commitment of €5 million from my Department through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund. Innovate Together is acollaboration between Government, philanthropists and social innovations. Social Innovation Fund Ireland pledges to raise additional significant philanthropic funds for this initiative. The deadline for applications is 27 May 2020 at 5pm. Details can be found at the link:

- The organisation referred to by the Deputy can check their eligibility for the above supports through the Department or from the Pobal website links provided.

- In addition to the measures which have been introduced by my Department for community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises, the Government has put in place a range of supports and guidance for businesses impacted by COVID-19. A downloadable guide to these supports and their eligibility criteria is available . Details of enhanced government supports for businesses announced on 2 May 2020 are available .  Enquiries can be directed to the relevant contact points listed in the material.

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