Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Rural and Community Development

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Martin Browne (Tipperary, Sinn Fein)
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88. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her views on the way in which the operators of community services centres are facing considerable fees for water at a time when their ability to generate income has been limited; if she will consider addressing the issue; her further views on the supports that are needed for community councils and organisations given the impact of Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43335/20]

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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While community facilities are funded from a range of different sources across different Government Departments and agencies, some examples of the supports provided by my Department to community organisations include a€45 million support packagefor the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises. This funding is being made available through the Dormant Accounts Fund, set aside to support initiatives benefiting the most disadvantaged. Eligible centres are receiving funding under this package.

In addition, the 2020 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) with funding of €2m providing small capital grants to community organisations was launched in June. Separately, under the July stimulus package my Department launched a €5m fund for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. While it is now closed for 2020, it is hoped to run the CEP again in 2021.

More recently my Department launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which community and voluntary groups can apply for by contacting the Local Community Development Committee in their area. This follows on from a previous €2.5m round of this fund.

My Department's Community Services Programme (CSP)supports over 420 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. In response to the difficulties faced by organisations as a result of COVID-19, my Department developed a €4.75m Support Fund to assist CSP supported organisations to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also to provide assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution, during this crisis period and until April 2021.

The Rural Development Investment Programmeis being tailored to address the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19. This includes schemes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme through which improvements to community centres have been funded in the past.

Some of these scheme have closed for 2020, and I would encourage all groups to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available in 2021.

The specific matter of water fees falls under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Rose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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89. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the supports in place for community halls and centres nationwide that have lost the ability to generate revenue during Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43785/20]

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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Community facilities such as community halls are funded from a range of different sources across different Government Departments and agencies. Some of the supports provided by my Department towards community facilities are outlined below.

My Department's Community Services Programme (CSP)supports over 420 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. CSP funding is provided as a fixed annual contribution to the cost of an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions and a manager, where warranted. In response to the difficulties faced by organisations due to COVID-19, my Department developed a €4.75m Support Fund to assist CSP supported organisations to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also to provide assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution during this crisis period and until April 2021.

A €45 million support packagefor the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises was launched by Government and is administered by my Department. This funding is being made available through the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is specifically set aside to support initiatives, which will benefit the most disadvantaged groups in society. Eligible centres are receiving funding under this package.

The 2020 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) with funding of €2m providing small capital grants to community organisations was launched in June. Separately, under the July stimulus package my Department launched a €5m fund for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. While it is now closed for 2020, it is hoped to run the CEP again in 2021.

More recently my Department launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which local community and voluntary groups can apply for by contacting the Local Community Development Committee in their area. This follows on from a previous €2.5m round of this fund.

The Rural Development Investment Programmeis being tailored to address the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19.This includes schemes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme through which improvements to community centres have been funded in the past. The closing date for applications under the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme has passed, however a further round of the Scheme will operate in 2021. Full details of the 2021 Scheme will issue to all Local Authorities when finalised.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19.I would encourage all groups to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.

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