I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 226 together.
The key objectives of my Department's Community Division are to facilitate integrated development at local level and foster vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities; and to support the Community and Voluntary Sector in its contribution to an active, democratic and pluralist society. My Department continues to be responsible for a range of programmes and initiatives to support communities including the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP), the Seniors Alert Scheme, RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development) Programme, the Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector and the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising.
The objective of the LCDP is to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government, its agencies, and people in disadvantaged communities. It is a key tool of Government in providing supports for the ‘harder to reach' in the most disadvantaged areas in society. The Government's commitment to enabling rural communities to become self sufficient has been reaffirmed this year through increased funding for Axes 3 and 4 (LEADER Axes) of the RDP giving a total allocation for 2012 of €96 million. The LEADER approach ensures that communities are involved and have a say in their own development choices.
In terms of future approaches, the government is committed, under the Programme for Government to reviewing the delivery of local and community development functions by exploring options to improve the alignment of these functions with those of local government. In this regard, I refer also to the reply to Question No. 54 on today's Order paper.