Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Public Expenditure Policy

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
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212. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he can account for spending a record 21.5% increase in taxation revenues in 2022 (from €68.41 billion in 2021 to €83.13 billion in 2022) when it comes to delivering rural infrastructure and critical services across our regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2527/23]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The response to this PQ is essentially the same as that which I gave to Priority Question 5 today from the Deputy.

Supporting rural Ireland is a major, cross governmental policy objective and priority.

Firstly, I should say that the amounts allocated to the Department of Rural and Community Development are themselves but a fraction of what we invest in our regions and rural communities. Government expenditure as a whole is directed to serving the needs of the entire nation, whether to people living in our cities, our regions, our towns or in our rural communities. Overall Government expenditure supports public services and investment in all the country, including in rural areas.

More specifically, the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) was established in 2017 with a mission to promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland.

Since establishment the Department has helped deliver and implement a strong policy platform for rural development. In March 2021 the Government launched Our Rural Future, Ireland’s Rural Development Policy. This policy reflects a whole of Government commitment to the economic and social development of rural Ireland, which is also reflected in the National Development Plan.

While the Department of Rural and Community Development is only one aspect of Government investment, it is important to note the growth in funding for that Department. In 2022 the Department has a gross allocation of €398 million, of which €202 million was for the rural development programme. This compares to a rural development programme allocation of €80 million in 2017, when the Department was established. This 150% increase in funding has enabled unprecedented investment in rural development schemes including LEADER, Town and Village Renewal, the Local Improvement Scheme and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund has approved funding of €395 million for 225 projects since it first started approving projects in 2019. This demonstrates the level of investment and scale of ambition this Government has in terms of investment in rural economies and communities.

Our Rural Future, is a policy that is delivered right across Government, and investment in education, healthcare, transport, broadband, tourism, agriculture and food, and enterprise development is taking place across the relevant Departments and helping to ensure our rural communities and businesses are sustainable and continue to thrive.

More generally, overall Government expenditure underpins:

(i) the provision of primary and secondary schools (including special needs provision and school transport) in rural areas;

(ii) the provision of health services to the population of rural areas;

(iii) investment in improving and maintaining rural roads;

(iv) the provision of public transport in rural areas;

(v) the provision of housing in rural areas;

(vi) the provision of environmental services in rural areas;

(vii) investment in our critical agricultural sector and support for our farming community;

(viii) investment in job creation and enterprise throughout our regions and rural areas;

(ix) support for sporting activity in rural areas, including capital investment in local sport infrastructure;

(x) support for the provision of broadband in rural areas; and

(xi) support for tourism-related employment and enterprise in rural areas by tourism marketing and investment in tourism product.

I could instance several other major sources of Government support for and investment in our rural communities. What I outlined demonstrates the overall Government commitment to rural communities and the specific focus of the Department of Rural and Community Development (with its significantly increased budgets in recent years) on promoting the development and prosperity of rural communities.


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