I propose to take Questions Nos. 2433 to 2438, inclusive, together.
The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) provides funding to voluntary, sporting and community organisations, and to local authorities for the provision of sports and recreational facilities. The programme has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in the quality and quantity of sporting facilities in virtually every village, town and city in the country. The amount of funding sought under each round of the programme inevitably exceeds the total funding available so it is essential to have an objective, transparent and fair methodology to decide which applications are most deserving of funding.
The latest round of the SCP closed for applications on Friday 19th October 2018. The guide to making an application, which was published prior to the application process, contained a specific section on how the Department assesses applications and the key considerations used to determine the score awarded at assessment stage. Workshops were also held across the country to assist applicants in making the best possible application to obtain funding. The detailed scoring system was also published on my Department's website prior to assessment work commencing. In this regard, the key factors used to arrive at the relevant score for each application include the following:-
- The likelihood of increasing participation and/or improving performance.
- Whether the proposed facilities will be shared with other users.
- The level of socio-economic disadvantage in the area.
- The technical merits of the proposed project.
- The level of funding being provided towards the project by the applicant.
- The level of SCP funding received in the last ten years by the applicant.
By the deadline for the 2018 round, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding. 186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January.
619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced in May. The top 75% of applications by score received a grant offer. For the 2018 round of the SCP, the appeal system has been extended to allow applicants to appeal the score awarded at assessment stage. In respect of the recent “equipment only” applications, 64 appeals were submitted by the deadline and these appeals are currently being processed. Under the appeals system each application, the subject of an appeal, is assessed by an official not involved in the original assessment of that application. The review will examine if it was originally assessed reasonably and correctly in accordance with the published criteria and in line with the scoring system and assessment procedures that apply to all applicants. The application to which the Deputy refers is the subject of an appeal under this procedure. I expect to announce the results of the appeals process shortly.
While I am satisfied that the SCP application process is objective, transparent, fair and user-friendly, it is under continuous review to ensure this continues to be the case. Accordingly, as soon as the final allocations under this round of the SCP are made, my Department will carry out a full review of all aspects of it. This review will include consideration of the timing and scale of the next round but will also look at the scoring system. Any recommended changes arising from the review will be factored in to the terms and conditions of the next round.
I have asked my officials to meet the organisation referred to by the Deputy to discuss any concerns they have with the assessment process and a meeting in this regard has been arranged for early August.