Written answers

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Department of Rural and Community Development

Departmental Schemes

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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94. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications for the Connected Hubs Fund currently with her Department. [38488/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The increased shift to remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity 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 is a key focus of the Government's new rural development policy Our Rural Future.

Remote working, supported by appropriate infrastructure and facilities, has the potential to encourage more people to live in rural areas while working in good quality jobs, no matter where their employer is based. Aside from the obvious benefits to remote workers themselves, those that can work from a hub spend locally and will help revitalise our rural towns and their wider hinterlands.

On April 29th I launched the €5m Connected Hubs Call. This funding will benefit multiple projects and will support a wide range of relevant works nationwide, including the expansion of existing hubs, installation of privacy booths, access control and security systems, the conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices, and the provision of enhanced audio visual, networking and conferencing facilities. Grants will also fund measures to assist hubs to deal with COVID related challenges.

This investment will support the ongoing development of the recently launched National Hub Network – connectedhubs.ie, which already has 113 hubs using the platform and 380 hubs mapped. The supports delivered through this network will help build on the fantastic asset Ireland already has in its connected working ecosystem.

By the deadline of June 17th, my Department had received 152 applications in total. This represents a very high level of interest in my Department's call for proposals, and I expect to be in a position to announce details of successful applicants shortly.


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