Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
Flexible Work Practices
73. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she has considered working with local authorities to establish hubs for remote working in towns and cities to facilitate new ways of working into the future. [34915/20]
Remote working has the potential to transform rural Ireland, allowing people to build careers in good quality jobs while continuing to live closer to home. It also provides an opportunity for those that moved away from home to return to their roots to raise their families.
The increased shift to remote work in the last nine months as a result of COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to re-imagine the possibilities for a greater regional distribution of jobs and to support a better quality of life for many people who previously spent many hours in long commutes.
This shift has been supported by the significant investment my Department has made, in partnership with Local Authorities in many cases, in developing remote working facilities across Ireland. My Department has provided €45.2 million to hub-related projects through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and €5.2 million through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme since 2016.
My Department is collaborating with the Western Development Commission (WDC) to develop a national integrated network of remote working hubs, supported by shared back-office services. The national network will build upon the work of the WDC in developing a Hub Network along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, from Kerry to Donegal.
The Atlantic Economic Corridor Officers, who are based in the 10 Local Authorities in the AEC region and co-funded by my Department, have supported the development of the AEC Hub Network.
The development of this model into a national hub network is being overseen by an Interdepartmental Working Group chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. A data-gathering project involving all Local Authorities and the Local Government Management Agency is currently underway, with the intention of developing a comprehensive centralised dataset of facilities across Ireland which can support remote working.