Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
Flexible Work Practices
17. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will consider funding options for rural SMEs that would have space on their premises that could be made available for the establishment of remote working hubs in rural villages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50107/21]
The recent shift to remote working provides a unique opportunity for the revitalisation of our rural towns and villages through remote working.
My Department operates a number of funding schemes that focus on supporting remote working as outlined in Our Rural Future, the Government's Rural Development Policy for the period from 2021 to 2025.
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme both support the establishment of new digital hubs. Under this year's schemes, projects that bring vacant properties in town centres back into use as remote working hubs were eligible to apply for funding. Projects that repurpose existing community or publicly owned buildings in town or village centres to facilitate remote working were also eligible.
I also recently announced the awarding of €8.8 million in funding through the Connected Hubs stream to add capacity to existing remote working infrastructure in digital hubs and Broadband Connection Points across Ireland.
I am happy to confirm that I have secured additional funding as part of Budget 2022 across the range of services provided by my Department, including for the further support of remote working hubs. As my Department continues to implement supports for hubs under the 2022 suite of schemes, options for funding the repurposing of existing space held by rural SMEs can be examined as part of the scheme design process.