I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.
As part of the Government's Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and the 2012 estimates process, difficult decisions have had to be taken in relation to prioritising funding for core services in all programme areas.
The project in question is one of 5 drugs projects mainstreamed to my Department's Housing programme and, in 2011, funding of €129,200 was provided through Dublin City Council for the project. This funding represented only 8% of the project's overall budget of €1.59 million in 2011. The Council was informed in December 2011 that it would not be possible for my Department to continue funding the project beyond 31 March 2012.
A consultation process commenced between the 5 drugs projects, the relevant local authorities and other bodies to explore alternative funding mechanisms for the mainstreamed drugs projects for 2012 and beyond. As part of this process a consultation meeting regarding the project in question was facilitated by my Department on 3 February 2012. The meeting involved the Project Manager and Chair of the project in question, representatives from the Drugs Programme Unit in the Department of Health, Dublin City Council, Pobal and the Coordinator of the Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force, with apologies from Department of Children and Youth Affairs, HSE and FÁS representatives. A number of actions were agreed at the facilitation meeting,inter alia:
the Project Manager and Chair will engage bilaterally with the identified key funders, i.e. HSE, FÁS, Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Department of Health, with a view to identifying potential alternative funding sources, including through possible rationalisation of administration costs, sharing and maximising services, etc. The Department of Health agreed to facilitate further meetings, if required, and also offered to take part in further discussions with the Star projects' other funders,
the Project Manager and Chair will also undertake an internal examination of the potential for a reconfiguration or modification of the project's management structure,
Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force will re-examine funding priorities for 2012 within the Task Force budget with a view to identifying potential funding to support this project during 2012.
Having regard to difficulties identified by the Councils, the projects and other funding partners in ensuring that the 5 drugs projects have sufficient time to identify alternative streams of funding and/or to undertake a reconfiguration of project tasks and priorities, my Department has also agreed to provide additional pro rata funding to support the projects for the second quarter of 2012, i.e. to 30 June 2012, through a transfer of a €100,000 from within the provisional Housing programme estimate for 2012.
This funding is being provided strictly on a once off basis and on the clear understanding that it represents an extension of the transitional arrangement only, thereby providing projects with sufficient time to undertake a fully comprehensive consultation to identify future alternative funding mechanisms. It will be a matter for all the public funding bodies, as part of the consultation process, to identify resources to deliver on the overall objectives of the reconfigured projects beyond end June 2012.
Furthermore, in the context of a public funding provision of €260 million for drugs programmes across all Departments and agencies in 2011, my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy is currently undertaking a review of the structures that underpin the National Drugs Strategy at local, regional and national level, including how the current funding structures can be improved or streamlined, particularly in relation to local and regional drugs task forces.