Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
Community Development Projects
575. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the degree to which her Department continues to assess the emerging needs of urban and rural communities throughout the country with a view to responding specifically as required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8308/21]
576. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the degree to which she continues to monitor the needs in urban and rural communities throughout the country as accentuated by Covid-19 or other issues; the extent to which her response to specific deficiencies is guided by information; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8309/21]
586. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which her Department has ongoing dialogue with the relevant authorities and bodies to ensure the appropriate response in terms of investment by her Department in such areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28274/21]
587. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she continues to examine progress in addressing the issues threatening urban or rural communities for whatever reason; her response to date and proposals in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28275/21]
589. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which her Department continues to address towns and villages and communities throughout urban and rural Ireland with a view to dealing with economic deficiencies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28277/21]
590. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the steps she continues to take to encourage economic investment in social supports to encourage investment in jobs and services nationwide leading to increased economic activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28278/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 575, 576, 586, 587, 589 and 590 together.
My Department delivers a wide range of policies and measures to support urban and rural communities. All policy is underpinned by broad consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including rural and urban stakeholder groups, young people and the wider public, Government Departments and State Agencies. This engagement process provides important insights into issues impacting on rural and urban communities and in identifying areas for response relevant to the work of my Department.
My Department introduced specific supports, interventions and funding packages, having accessed the emerging needs of urban and rural communities impacted by COVID-19. A range of COVID-19 related supports were introduced to support the response and recovery from the pandemic in 2020 including; COVID-19 Stability Fund; Broadened Community Enhancement Programme; Town & Village Renewal – Accelerated Measure; Philanthropy Fund ‘Innovate Together’; Broadened CLÁR Programme; Comic Relief match funding; Libraries Development- Small Scale Capital Works Programme ; Community Services Programme (CSP) Support Fund; Social Enterprise Funding; Volunteer Support Programme and the COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
The 2021 COVID-19 Stability Fund, launched on Thursday 6th May last is targeted at organisations which deliver critical services to vulnerable people within their community but which now face closure or a loss of service due to the impact of the pandemic. The application window is open, closing on 27thMay 2021.
The recently launched € 4.5 million 2021 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) 2021 will support local groups to re-open their facilities post COVID-19. The application window is open, groups should contact their LCDC for information on making applications.
Groups or organisations qualify for support schemes or programmes provided by my Department where they meet the requisite eligibility criteria. Examples where my Department has provided specific supports, interventions and funding packages for communities throughout the country are as follows:
- €50 million 2020 support package for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises launched by Government and administered by my Department. This funding was made available from the Dormant Accounts Fund through the COVID-19 Stability Fund and the Innovate Together Fund.
- €4.2 million for 2 rounds of the 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Fund which was focused on groups participating in the Government’s “Community Call” initiative.
- €7 million was provided in funding for the Community Enhancement Programme in 2020. This comprised of €2 million in June and a further €5 million in August under the Government July Stimulus package.
- 4.75mCommunity Services Programme, or CSP, 2020 additional support fund, developed by my Department in response to the difficulties being experienced by organisations due to COVID-19, to continue to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll, regardless of whether the organisations are in a position to continue to provide normal activities or whether they have had to close their facilities/services as a result of the COVID restrictions. The programme currently supports over 420 community organisations under the Community Services Programme, or CSP, to provide local services through a social enterprise model, in both urban and rural communities. Our 2020 allocation is €46.89m and we achieved full spend in 2020. We have an additional €2m for 2021. Some €49m is available to support community organisations under the programme in 2021.
- My Department worked with Pobal to put in place guidelines for the community and voluntary sector for reopening or operating their premises safely, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- My Department worked to support the Community Call initiative which was an unprecedented mobilisation of both state and voluntary resources to combat the effects of COVID-19. This included providing funding for a COVID-19 Community Outreach initiative implemented by the Wheel and Irish Rural link, which supported the voluntary sector.
- My Department provided flexibility under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP 2020, €39.1 million)to allow Local Development Companies work to support initiatives put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other key supports provided by my Department include:
- €6.5 million funding towards the regeneration of Dublin’s North East Inner City (NEIC) support in 2020, and the same amount will be available in 2021.
- €340,000 under the CLÁR 2020 programmethrough the addition of a new funding measure - Meals on Wheels and Linked Services which placed a particular focus on supporting CLÁR communities to deal with the impact of COVID-19 in their areas.
- €5.8 million in funding was approved under CLÁR 2020 for 186 projects. The CLÁR 2021 budget is increased by 10% to €5.5 million.
- €1.3 million support for voluntary organisations who provide transport for service users in rural areas under the 2020 Mobility and Cancer Care Measure.
- €25 million under the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme focused on interventions to support the economic and social recovery of our rural towns and villages and assist them in responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.
- I have secured an additional €2 million in Budget 2021 as part of the expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
- €20 million, initial allocation in December 2020 for Transitional LEADER Programme which will come into effect from 1st. April 2021. A key focus of the Transitional Programme will be on building capacity within communities which have not received LEADER funding to date. The programme will also support job creation, foster and encourage entrepreneurship, and support projects which address the climate agenda, digital transformation and the Smart Villages approach to building on local strengths and assets. Under the Transitional Programme, the grant rate for enterprises and commercially-focused community projects will be increased from a maximum of 50% to a maximum of 75%. This will further help to support enterprise development and job creation in rural areas in a post COVID and Brexit environment.
- Based on an analysis of the challenges faced by rural communities and ongoing discussions with stakeholders, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, third call for Category 1 applications to the Fund which closed in December 2020 had a dual focus - to deliver planned and sustainable regeneration in towns and villages, and to channel investment towards economic recovery in the post Covid-19 environment, providing an immediate stimulus to support the recovery and further development of rural economies and communities. For similar reasons, changes were also made in relation to the intensity of funding which could be sought from the Fund under this call, with the Fund providing up to 90% of the total project value for successful projects under this call.
- The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, or SICAP, is our country’s primary social inclusion intervention. It is a national programme delivered with funding of €190 million over a five-year period from 2018 to 2022. The work in each area differs to support local structures and needs rather than imposing general solutions. It will include work to combat isolation experienced by disadvantaged individuals. SICAP supports a range of groups in society which are disadvantaged and marginalised.
- My Department provides support to Local Authorities towards the cost of additional staff to support the community function in Local Authorities. These are key posts which continue to support the coordinated Local Community Development Committee arrangements and the implementation of Local Economic and Community Plans in particular monitoring the emerging needs of urban and rural communities throughout the country with a view to responding specifically as required.
In addition my Department has published a number of important policies which will bring tangible benefits to communities throughout the country, including:
- The recently launched Our Rural Future, a new whole-of-Government Rural Development Policy for the next five years, which sets out a range of measures to strengthen the resilience of our rural communities and economies, including addressing the impacts of challenges experienced by people living and working in rural Ireland and maximising opportunities for rural areas.
- The development of the National Volunteering Strategyprovided an opportunity to engage with the sector and the establishment of a National Advisory Group representative of all stakeholders and chaired by the Minister of State, including engagement with our young people through a consultation event with Foróige. €5.1m is allocated in 2021 to provide support to Volunteer Centres, Volunteering Organisation and to assist with the implementation of the new National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025. Supporting the role of volunteers in our society is an important element of my Department’s work.
Ongoing dialogue is maintained by my Department with rural and urban stakeholders, in order to identify and respond to issues impacting on individuals and communities. I will also continue to collaborate with my Government colleagues and will monitor the issues which impact our urban and rural communities in order to respond to emerging needs.
577. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the timescale for decisions on the 2021 community development pilot programme applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26239/21]
The closing date for receipt of applications for the 2021 Pilot Community Development Programme was Wednesday 31st March. Due to the large number of high quality applications received, my Department is undertaking a two stage assessment process to examine the applications against the criteria set out. It is expected that successful applicants will be notified at the end of May.
All applicants are being kept informed of timelines.
578. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the level of funding provided for the community development programme in 2021; the range of activities and community development that will be supported under the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26240/21]
Funding of €1m will be provided for a pilot Community Development Programmein 2021. It is expected that the programme will continue for three years. The pilot programme will support up to eight projects engaged in community development work with marginalised communities. An allocation of €120,000 - €140,000 per organisation is anticipated.
The overall aim is to trial community development initiatives that address poverty, social exclusion and inequality, and promote human rights. The focus will be on community development organisations working or seeking to work at local level to address issues in areas such as racism (including Travellers and Roma), domestic or sexual violence, migration, gender, people living in direct provision or seeking international protection, climate action and Just Transition.
The Pilot Programme has attracted a large amount of high quality applications from a range of organisations who work with marginalised groups the length and breadth of the country and it is expected that successful applicants will be notified at the end of May.
579. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her views on the Ballymun a Brighter Future Report (details supplied) published in March 2021; and if she will meet stakeholders involved in the report. [17151/21]
580. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her progress to date on the commitment on page 85 of the Programme for Government to Expand the Dublin North East Inner City Model to other comparative areas experiencing disadvantage; and if the Ballymun - A Brighter Future report can be included in this model. [18419/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 579 and 580 together.
Ballymun is one of the many areas across Ireland that could benefit from a community development approach, and it is important that reports such as 'A Brighter Future' referenced by the Deputy feed into policy and decision making at Government and local level. I would be happy to meet with the stakeholders involved to hear directly from them about the challenges faced in the Ballymun area.
The Deputy references the Dublin North East Inner City (NEIC) Initiative, where my Department is providing €6.5m towards the regeneration of the area in 2021, to help ensure that the recommendations of the Mulvey Report and the actions contained in the NEIC Strategic Plan 2020 - 2022 are implemented.
The Dublin North East Inner City area and the Ballymun area also receive other supports from my Department, consistent with what is provided across the country. For example, my Department also funds SICAP, a five year €190m national programme, delivered locally, to help those in the greatest need. SICAP will provide some €9.9m to the Dublin area in 2021 giving vital support to those community groups and individuals most in need.
In addition, under the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) my Department is providing €4.5m in 2021 so that community groups can avail of small grants, with approximately €675,000 allocated to the Dublin area.
For both SICAP and the CEP, the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in each area manages the programme at a local level to ensure the funding is used to address disadvantage.
LCDCs play a key role in tackling issues in disadvantaged areas, bringing a more coordinated, whole-of-Government approach to local and community development. The LCDC structure provides a useful mechanism to ensure that local knowledge is used to target funding to where it is needed most in a particular area. They are best placed to ensure that state funding is channelled to those areas and communities most in need.
I am conscious of the Programme for Government commitment to expand the Dublin North East Inner City Model and my officials are currently working to consider how this can best be achieved, while considering the important role that LCDCs can play in this regard.