For Oral Answer on : 15/12/2022
Question Number(s): 32 Question Reference(s): 62788/22
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the way in which her Department is working to establish and support community groups, especially in rural areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My Department’s mission is to support vibrant and sustainable communities across this country, and in doing so to deliver on a wide range of strategic interventions, funding programmes and policies to support urban and rural communities. In 2019, my Department published Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities – A five year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 2019-2024. The strategy reaffirms the Government’s commitment to supporting the sector.
I launched the Community Support Fund (CSF) with funding of €10 million on 18th November this year. This fund is designed to assist community groups across the country, in light of the current rising energy costs. Groups should contact their local LCDC for further details on the fund and the application process.
Separately, the Community and Voluntary Energy Support Scheme (CVESS), administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department, will provide once-off energy supports to organisations within the community and voluntary sector which fall outside the parameters of other energy support schemes being delivered by Government.
CVESS will support incorporated C&V sector organisations (i.e. those incorporated as CLGs or Co-Operatives) and/or registered charities only. While applications for Phase 1 closed on 2nd December, I can confirm that my department has streamlined the process for multi-site applicants in a further round of the scheme, which is now open. In addition, eligible organisations who missed the deadline for Phase One may also apply under Phase Two, with applications remaining open until 20th January 2023.
The Department’s Community Services Programme (CSP) supported over 430 community organisations during 2022, to provide employment opportunities and the delivery of a diverse range of local services, through a social enterprise model. CSP supported organisations focus on whole communities, both urban and rural, as well as specific cohorts within them such as the elderly or people with disabilities.
The LEADER programme operates a community led local development approach to meeting the needs of local communities and businesses. The programme supports private enterprises and community groups in 28 sub-regional areas across the country within a range of themes. LEADER is administered by a Local Action Group (LAG) in each area. Interested parties should contact their LAG in the first instance. Contact details are available on the gov.ie website.
In April of this year, a new €15 million CCIF was announced to support community groups for the upgrade and refurbishment of Community Centres. This is an investment in both rural and urban communities across the country. Funding was available under 3 Categories with grants up to €300,000 available.
€20 million in funding under Budget 2023 has been secured for a 2023 Community Centres Investment Fund. It is intended that the 2023 fund will be targeted for new build community centres as well as upgrades and improvements to existing centres. The details of this scheme are currently being developed by officials within my Department and I hope to announce further details in quarter 1 of 2023.
Finally, my Department’s SICAP 2018 – 2023 provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion at a local level through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies. In 2021, 2,646 community groups and 26,483 individuals were assisted through the SICAP programme.