For Oral Answer on : 31/05/2022
Question Number(s): 49 Question Reference(s): 25014/22
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the measures being taken by her Department to encourage the establishment of large-scale remote working hubs in provincial towns; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 31 May, 2022.
Our Rural Future places significant emphasis on remote working as a game changer for rural Ireland. As the Deputies will agree, remote working supports communities, local economies and families to thrive. It also allows many employers to hire the most talented workers, wherever they may happen to live.
My Department has invested some €100m in the development of remote working facilities across a range of schemes, particularly through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
As the Deputy will be aware, I announced funding of more than €18 million under the 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which included 28 projects related to remote working and hubs.
I have recently launched the 2022 Town & Village Renewal Scheme which will provide funding to bring vacant properties back into use as remote working facilities and also to repurpose community and publicly owned buildings to facilitate remote workers. The RRDF is also funding the regeneration of historic town centre buildings as Enterprise and Co-Working Hubs.
My Department has also now completed the assessments of the Connected Hubs Call 2022, to which I have allocated €5 million to add remote and co-working capacity in existing hubs and Broadband Connection Points across the country. This is in addition to the almost €9 million allocated last year under the same scheme. The successful applicants to the 2022 Call will be announced imminently.
As regards further increasing the number of remote working hubs, I have been clear that my Department will support remote workers and the sector, as required. We have acted quickly and decisively to ensure adequate provision of services to date. As we develop a strategy for the future of the National Hub Network, it is vital that we take stock of what has been achieved and what still needs to be done.
I am particularly interested to learn how the hubs and their users see the future of the sector. I have directed my officials to engage directly with the remote working community as they assess the impact of both the National Hubs Network (connectedhubs.ie) and the funding provided under the Connected Hubs Call. This will help to inform our ongoing investment in the sector.