Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (477, 478)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

489 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to recently published research on participation, expenditure and regressivity in the Irish lottery; if he will take these findings on board on developing systems for the disbursement from the Dormant Accounts Fund, now that the Dormant Accounts Board has been abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35209/12]

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Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

490 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to recently published research on participation, expenditure and regressivity in the Irish lottery; if he will take this example of best practice on board in developing systems for the disbursement from the Dormant Accounts Fund, now that the Dormant Accounts Board has been abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35210/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 490 together.

The Dormant Accounts legislation allows for the disbursal of Dormant Accounts funding under the following themes:

To improve the quality of life and reduce isolation for people who are economically or socially disadvantaged (Category A — Economic and Social Disadvantage)

To improve opportunities for individuals who are economically or socially disadvantaged to overcome the impediments arising from such disadvantage through deriving appropriate benefit from education (Category B — Educational Disadvantage);

To enhance the potential for persons with a disability to play a more active role in society and increase their level of independence (Category C — Supports for people with Disabilities).

These categories remain the focus under the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act, 2012, signed into law on 11 July 2012.

Given the special nature of dormant accounts funds which effectively are made up of private citizens' money, not Exchequer funding, there is a legitimate public expectation that the disbursement process should be transparent and equitable. The 2012 Act strengthens Government and Oireachtas oversight of the area, while at the same time simplifying administrative arrangements and the associated processes in respect of grants awarded from the Dormant Accounts Fund. Details of proposed schemes, actions plans, the listing of all approved measures and projects, and the annual report will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Particular care is taken in the new legislation to ensure Oireachtas/public scrutiny of these processes, and ongoing reviews will be available to the public.

Given its focus, as set down in the legislation, a significant proportion of the funding disbursed to date from the Fund has been channelled through community and voluntary groups with a particular focus on socially excluded communities. This is in addition to the other supports provided by my Department to that sector annually through other programmes and schemes. The intention has always been to provide for a broad and balanced range of potential beneficiaries from dormant accounts disbursements and this remains the focus under the new Act.

Question No. 491 answered with Question No. 461.