Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
Social Enterprise Sector
793. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if there is a plan in place for the survival and viability of social enterprise and funded community service programmes which provide essential services to the community, due to lost income and the added costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13709/20]
My Department is very much aware that many social enterprises, similar to other businesses, find themselves in financial difficulty as commercial activities have been curtailed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In recognition of this, my Department recently announced a number of specific support measures for social enterprises, along with community and voluntary organisations and charities. These supports, which are additional to other Government supports such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, include:
- a €2.5 million fund to support community and voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises involved in the delivery of COVID-19 community response efforts, which was announced in April;
- a €35 million COVID-19 Stability Fund, administered by Pobal, to help organisations who saw their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis;
- a €5 million Government commitment to a Philanthropy Fund (Innovate Together), administered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, which is focused on supporting responses to the crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions.
The first tranche of funding under the Stability Fund was announced on 26th June and will provide over €10 million to 179 organisations. Further tranches will be announced over the coming weeks. Applications under the Innovate Together Fund are currently being assessed and successful applicants will be announced when this process is complete.
My Department continues to support the development of social enterprises in a number of ways, in line with the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland (2019-2022). For example, the pilot Training and Mentoring programme announced last year is enabling 14 projects to support up to 400 social enterprise participants to enhance their capacities across a wide range of areas including leadership, marketing and business development. This pilot programme is even more important in the COVID-19 operating environment and my Department has adopted a flexible approach to ensure that the scheme meets the new challenges facing the sector.
The Community Services Programme (CSP), currently supports over 400 social enterprises and community organisations and my Department is fully committed to continuing to support those organisations. My Department put in place a 2020 Support Fund which provided an additional payment to many of these organisations for a 12 week period from 26th March 2020, ensuring that they could pay their full-time CSP supported employees a maximum of €350 net per week, with a proportionate amount for part-time CSP supported employees.