Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Questions (15)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

15. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will increase the allocation in funding to Meath County Council for the local improvement scheme in 2020 and 2021. [50624/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. It is funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities.

Since I reintroduced the LIS in 2017, I have granted over €48 million to the Local Authorities to deliver the scheme.  This has resulted in over 2,000 road projects being approved for works. 

Meath County Council has been allocated over €1.5 million of the funding since 2017, which I understand has supported the completion of works on 55 roads in the county.  This year alone, my Department awarded €326,000 to County Meath under the LIS.

I plan to support the LIS scheme again in 2020, and a budget of €10 million has been secured for this purpose.  This matches the level of funding announced for 2019 and demonstrates my commitment to the scheme. 

The exact level of funding to be provided to each Council in 2020, including Meath County Council, will be confirmed when the scheme is announced next year.

It is too early to give any indication of the level of funding which might be provided for the LIS in 2021. That will be decided as part of the annual Estimates process next year.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Questions (16)

Dara Calleary

Question:

16. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of projects approved under the town and village renewal scheme in 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of projects that were not approved in each year; the reason for refusal; and if there is an appeal mechanism in place to appeal refusal decisions. [50619/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

There has been a strong level of  interest in the Town and Village Renewal Scheme since it was introduced in 2016.

In 2018, I approved 224 projects under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, with 66 applications being unsuccessful.

In 2019, 309 applications were received by my Department under the scheme, seeking funding of over €31 million. 

The selection of projects was by means of a competitive process and, on 31st October last, I announced details of 156 projects that have been approved for funding of €15 million this year. Unfortunately it was not possible to support all of the applicants within the available budget and the remaining 153 projects were unsuccessful on this occasion.  

There are a number of reasons why projects are not approved for funding in each year. This is generally where a  project is not eligible under the terms of the scheme, or where the project does not score high enough compared to other applications.  

There is no formal appeals system in place for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. However, my officials are available to provide feedback to the Local Authorities in respect of any unsuccessful applications. 

While I understand that the unsuccessful projects will be disappointed by the outcome, the assessment process ensures that the Department is funding projects that deliver the best return for the public monies available.  Local Authorities will also have the opportunity to submit revised applications in respect of the unsuccessful towns or village projects to the 2020 scheme.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund Administration

Questions (17)

Martin Heydon

Question:

17. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the rural regeneration fund; when the next phase will open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50647/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.  

The first call for applications to the Fund closed in September 2018.  There was a large response to the first call, with 280 applications received under Categories 1 and 2.  

Category 1 related to projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place and which were ready to proceed, while Category 2 projects were those which required further development to become ready for Category 1 status. 

On foot of the first call, 38 successful Category 1 projects and 46 Category 2 projects were announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth €117m.  

The second call for Category 1 applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 6th August 2019.  There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects from the second call on the 6th  November 2019.  26 projects were approved for funding of €62 million to support projects costing €95 million.

I will be announcing a second call for Category 2 applications - projects which require development support to become ready for Category 1 status - before the end of this year. 

The next call for Category 1 applications to the Fund will be announced in early 2020.

Community Development Projects

Questions (18)

Robert Troy

Question:

18. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the position regarding a previous announcement by Pobal regarding new positions in Mullingar, County Westmeath (details supplied). [50481/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Pobal is a not for profit company that works on behalf of Government to support communities and local agencies toward achieving social inclusion outcomes.  Pobal does this by managing funding and providing supports for relevant Government funded programmes.

Pobal established a temporary office in Mullingar during September 2019 and 17 staff are currently working from this location.  A new space to accommodate up to 50 seats is expected to open during Q1 of 2020. This will consist mainly of National Childcare Scheme staff and a hot-desk area. The staff who will be based there are expected to be a mix of Pobal staff who will transfer to this office space and newly hired staff. 

Any new jobs arising will be advertised on www.pobal.ie, their twitter account @Pobal and other sources.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Questions (19)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

19. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of funding for the local improvement scheme in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50428/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

Since I reintroduced the Local Improvement Scheme in September 2017, I have allocated over €48 million to the Local Authorities for improvement works on private and non-public roads, including €10 million for 2019.

I have secured €10 million in funding under Budget 2020 to continue the scheme next year.  However, I also want to review the scheme to ensure that it operates as effectively as possible for the people who use the roads on a daily basis.  

This year, I introduced a cap on the level of contribution which any individual householder or landowner is asked to contribute to the cost of repairs to their roads.  However, I am still seeing wide variations in the cost of completing these works across Local Authorities. 

I am committed to continuing my support for rural communities in 2020 under the LIS, and I intend to announce a new round of funding next year when I have reviewed how the scheme has operated to date.  I want to ensure that we get the best value for the taxpayers' money which is funding the scheme.

The exact level of funding to be provided to each Local Authority will be confirmed when the scheme is announced.

Charities Regulation

Questions (20)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

20. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications received and consents given by the Charities Regulator pursuant to the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 and-or the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012; the locations and acreage of the lands and premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50638/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department has overall policy responsibility for the Charities Regulator. However, the Charities Regulator is fully independent in the performance of its statutory functions, including its consent to the disposition of charity lands.

 The Charities Regulator has two main obligations in the sale of lands in these cases:

1. To ensure market value is obtained for the land/property

2. To ensure the proceeds go towards charitable purpose(s)

There have been a total of 10 applications, pursuant to the 2002 and the 2012 Acts, considered from 2014 to 2018 inclusive, with consent being granted in 7 cases.  Applications were made and consents granted prior to 2014, but they were not granted by the Charities Regulator as they pre-date the Regulator’s powers.

Details of the location and acreage of the applications concerned have been requested by my Department and the documentation is currently being retrieved from storage.  The consent of the Board of the Charities Regulator would be required to release any such information.

The following revised reply was received on 12 December 2019.

My Department has overall policy responsibility for the Charities Regulator. However, the Charities Regulator is fully independent in the performance of its statutory functions, including its consent to the disposition of charity lands.

The Charities Regulator has two main obligations in the sale of lands in these cases:

1.To ensure market value is obtained for the land/property

2.To ensure the proceeds go towards charitable purpose(s)

There have been a total of 11 applications, pursuant to the 2002 and the 2012 Acts, considered from 2014 to 2018 inclusive, with consent being granted in 7 cases. Applications were made and consents granted prior to 2014, but they were not granted by the Charities Regulator as they pre-date the Regulator’s powers.

Details of the location and acreage of the applications concerned have been requested by my Department and the documentation is currently being retrieved from storage. The consent of the Board of the Charities Regulator would be required to release any such information.

Local Community Development Committees

Questions (21)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

21. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the recommendations, as outlined in the review of local community development committees; the status of the six recommendations; the timelines for completion in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50642/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) were established in mid-2014 to bring about a more joined-up and integrated approach to local service planning and delivery. In August I approved a comprehensive review of the LCDCs which was underpinned by extensive consultation and highlighted the significant progress made since LCDCs were established.  The review also recognised a number of challenges that need to be addressed to secure the longer-term effectiveness of the structures. It makes a series of recommendations including securing greater cross-government buy-in; improved development and support programmes for LCDCs and their members; and strengthening and streamlining administrative supports.

Implementation of the LCDC review recommendations is included as an action in the recently published Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities; A five year strategy for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 20179-2024.  My Department is identified as the body with lead responsibility for its implementation, with Local Government, other Government Departments and the Community & Voluntary sector all having a part to play.

My Department has begun the implementation of the review recommendations, recently initiating a process of engagement with other Government Departments to promote more cross government commitment to the LCDCs. In addition, a successful networking event for LCDCs took place on the 9th  November looking at leadership and climate change. Work has begun on the other six actions that were scheduled to begin on Q4 2019 and this work will continue into the early part of 2020.  

Additional funding will be provided in 2020 to support LCDC's in line with the recommendations of the review.

LEADER Programmes Expenditure

Questions (22)

Dara Calleary

Question:

22. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount spent to date under the 2014 to 2020 LEADER programme by project and administration costs; the amount expended to date on project costs by each LAG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50620/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Total expenditure on the LEADER programme since it commenced - effectively in 2016 - amounts to over €75 million. This comprises:

- €1.5 million in costs incurred by the LAGs to develop their Local Development Strategies.

- €33.5 million in administration costs of the LAGs and the cost of their engagement with communities to generate projects.

- €40.1 million on project expenditure. 

Project payments continue to increase as approved works reach completion and claims are submitted for payment. Of the €40 million project expenditure which has been incurred to date, €27 million has been paid out in 2019.

Over 1,000, or 40%, of project promoters have now received a Final Payment in respect of their project. The Programme is now delivering real and tangible results for communities right across rural Ireland and I am confident that the increased stream of project approvals by the LAGs and payment claims being submitted to my Department will continue at pace for the remainder of the programming period.

The following table provides a breakdown of project payments made to date to each LAG. The figures do not include payments made under the thematic schemes funded outside of the core budget allocated to each LAG.

Total LEADER Project payments by LAG as at 2 December 2019  

Local Action Group

Project Payments to date

Carlow

€1,517,662

Cavan

€2,069,249

Clare

€1,413,934

Cork North

€950,714

Cork South

€504,996

Cork West

€540,069

Donegal

€3,458,456

Dublin Rural

€742,469

Galway East

€889,452

Galway West

€449,358

Kerry

€2,775,881

Kildare

€476,217

Kilkenny

€937,460

Laois

€1,007,502

Leitrim

€1,113,277

Limerick

€2,086,560

Longford

€850,063

Louth

€922,467

Mayo

€2,542,483

Meath

€536,852

Monaghan

€1,300,585

Offaly

€2,218,523

Roscommon

€1,308,789

Sligo

€1,453,487

Tipperary

€2,452,718

Waterford

€2,311,326

Westmeath

€622,187

Wexford

€2,032,760

Wicklow

€713,524

Grand Total

€40,199,022

Local Authority Facilities

Questions (23)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

23. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if funds and support will be provided to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to ensure the community supervised playground on Library Road, Dún Laoghaire, is maintained as a supervised playground; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50637/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department provides funding for facilities such as playgrounds through capital grants for the provision of playground infrastructure, including Multi Use Games Areas or MUGAs through schemes such as the Community Enhancement Programme and the CLÁR Programme.

I understand also that the Department for Children and Youth Affairs administers a Capital Grant Funding Scheme to provide new and or refurbish existing play and recreational facilities for children and young people and has regular engagement with the local authority play and recreation network.

While my Department provides funding towards the Capital cost of providing playground infrastructure and equipment, it does not provide funding towards the ongoing running cost of managing such facilities including the cost of supervision. The cost of providing supervision would not meet the criteria for any funding scheme currently operated by my Department.

Responsibility for the provision of amenities such as playgrounds is under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government whose Department  supports local government in its role of promoting the well-being and quality of life of citizens and communities through the efficient performance of its functions and the delivery of good-value services at local level.

I understand that the playground referred to by the Deputy is a facility which is being supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Local Authority.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Questions (24)

Brian Stanley

Question:

24. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his views on whether county councils should play a greater role in the town and village renewal scheme; and his views on whether the scheme should be deployed in such a way that it would enhance local area plans. [50295/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is part of a range of measures to support the revitalisation of rural Ireland under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Rural Regeneration and Development Programme.  Since 2016, €68 million has been allocated for more than 830 projects across the country under the scheme.

The Local Authorities are already central to the delivery of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. While the scheme is funded and managed by my Department, it is administered through the Local Authorities.

I believe that it is important that local communities are involved in identifying their own needs and proposing projects for their areas.  That is why Local Authorities are required to advertise for expressions of interest from towns and villages in their area under the scheme, and to identify proposals for development into detailed applications to be submitted to the Department for consideration.  The development of these proposals must be done in consultation with the community and business interests in each town or village.

In addition, the Local Authorities are informed that all applications submitted for funding must be consistent with the relevant County Development Plan, Local Economic and Community Plan, and other relevant local development plans.  This is to ensure that the funding provided through the scheme is targeted in a strategic way to achieve the greatest potential impact.

For the 2019 scheme, I also tried to encourage applications from towns and villages which had not previously received funding under the scheme.

I will continue to engage with the Local Authorities to ensure the Town and Village Renewal Scheme involves the maximum level of collaboration and engagement with local communities and businesses.

Community Enhancement Programme Funding

Questions (25)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

25. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the communities and projects and the value of funding in Galway city and county allocated funding under the community facilities fund in 2018 and 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50641/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

I launched the new Community Enhancement Programme in May 2018.  The Programme builds on and replaces the Communities Facilities Scheme and the recast RAPID programme which operated in 2017. Its development followed a review of those two schemes, and consultation with the 33 LCDCs across the country. 

Under the Programme, funding is allocated to each Local Authority area taking account of the deprivation level in each area.  The LCDC then administers the programme to ensure funding is allocated locally to the areas that need it most. 

I originally allocated €4.5 million to this programme in 2018, and, based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from communities around the country I then allocated an additional €8 million to the programme, bringing the total to €13 million. Galway City received €227,879 and Galway County received €398,937.

I ran the Community Enhancement Programme again in 2019 with funding of €4.5 million. Galway City received €132,455 and Galway County received €143,401.

These figures exclude €0.5 million provided each year under the Programme for a ring-fenced fund for Men’s and Women’s Sheds.

A list of the projects allocated funding in 2018 is available on my Department’s website and the list for 2019 is currently being compiled. I will provide copies to the Deputy separately.

Action Plan for Rural Development

Questions (26)

Brian Stanley

Question:

26. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of jobs created under the Action Plan for Rural Development in counties Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50293/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Action Plan for Rural Development was published in January 2017 as a whole-of-Government initiative to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.  One of the objectives of the Action Plan is to support enterprise growth and job creation in rural areas.  The coordinated approach of the Action Plan is achieving benefits in terms of increased employment in the regions and increased investment in projects and communities across the country. 

Overall employment in the regions continues to grow, with an increase of over 146,000 people employed outside of Dublin between 2015 and 2018.  This surpasses the Government’s target of increasing employment outside of Dublin by 135,000 by 2020.

Specific figures for job creation are not available at the level requested by the Deputy.  However, CSO statistics show an increase in persons in employment in the Midlands region (which includes the counties of Laois and Offaly) from 127,200 in Q3 2018 to 131,400 in Q3 2019. 

Over 132,000 jobs in IDA client companies are now based outside of Dublin, representing 58% of client companies' employment.  More than 60% of the 18,846 new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland’s client companies in 2018 were outside of the Dublin region.  The agency's figures indicate employment growth of 4% in the Midlands in 2018.

The Regional Enterprise Plans, which are overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, play a particularly important role in supporting job creation in the regions.  My own Department also contributes directly to job creation in rural areas through programmes such the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and LEADER.  LEADER is a multi-annual programme which has a budget of €250 million over the period to 2020 and has a job creation target of 3,100 over the lifetime of the programme.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will provide investment of €1 billion into rural areas over the period 2019-2027.  In November, I announced funding of €62 million for 26 projects through the Fund.  To date, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund has now provided €148 million to 110 projects with a total value of €212 million.  These projects will have a transformational effect on towns, villages and rural areas across Ireland and further support job creation.

RAPID Programme

Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 13.

Questions (27)

James Browne

Question:

27. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the analysis carried out to ensure the most disadvantaged communities in County Wexford previously identified in RAPID areas are receiving adequate support and funding under the community enhancement programme since the closure of the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50424/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Under the original RAPID programme, funding was ring-fenced for areas designated as RAPID.  The key difference with the new Community Enhancement Programme is that funding is allocated to every Local Authority area, on the basis of population and the deprivation level in each area.  

This is done using the Pobal Hasse deprivation index.  This measures the wealth or disadvantage of a particular area using data compiled from the Census.  

Once funding is provided to each Local Authority area, the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) then administers the programme.  LCDCs  monitor the programme and ensure that the funding is benefiting communities, urban and rural, across the country in the fairest way possible.  This approach ensures that local knowledge and up-to-date information is used to allocate funding, rather than only providing funding to areas designated as RAPID a number of years ago.  In 2019, Wexford was allocated €150,065 under the Community Enhancement Programme.

The Community Enchantment Programme is not the only way in which my Department provides support to disadvantaged areas.  For example, the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme , or SICAP, which runs from 2018 to 2022 is our country’s primary social inclusion intervention.  This is a €190m national programme that is delivered locally, to help those in the greatest need.  In 2020, Wexford is being allocated €1,752,800 under SICAP, an increase of 3% relative to 2019.

Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 13.

Local Improvement Scheme Data

Questions (29)

Dara Calleary

Question:

29. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of rural roads that were approved for funding under the local improvement scheme in 2018 and to date in 2019, by local authority in tabular form; the number of road projects completed in 2018 and to date in 2019; the projected number of road projects to be completed by the end of 2019; and if he will allocate additional funds to the scheme in 2019. [50622/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Since I reintroduced the Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS,  in 2017, I have allocated over €48 million to the scheme, which has resulted in the approval of over 2,000 roads projects. 

The LIS is funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities. The number and location of roads to benefit from improvement works under the scheme is a matter for the relevant Local Authority.

The table below outlines the number of LIS projects approved, and the number that have been confirmed as completed to date under the scheme in 2018 and 2019.  In a small number of cases, the number of roads completed is greater than the number originally approved, due to necessary substitutions agreed with my Department, as allowed for under the terms of the scheme. 

The final returns in respect of the 2019 scheme are currently being processed by my Department and I expect the number of roads completed to be in line with those approved earlier in the year. 

I allocated €10 million to the LIS for 2019 and I expect this funding to be fully utilised.  There is no funding available in my Department's Vote for an additional allocation this year.  However, I have secured funding for the scheme again in 2020 and I expect that a new round of funding will be announced in the New Year.

Table 1: LIS-Number of Roads Approved and Completed

Local Authority

Number of Roads Approved in 2018

Number of Roads Confirmed Complete under the 2018 Scheme

Number of Roads Approved in 2019

Number of Roads Confirmed Complete under the 2019 Scheme to Date

Carlow 

28

28

14

14

Cavan 

11

12

4

4

Clare 

30

30

12

12

Cork 

61

62

20

TBC

Donegal 

106

107

34

TBC

Galway 

66

69

37

36

Kerry 

58

61

26

TBC

Kildare

12

12

8

8

Kilkenny 

15

16

12

TBC

Laois 

19

15

6

7

Leitrim 

21

24

10

11

Limerick 

21

22

13

TBC

Longford 

25

25

15

15

Louth 

5

6

7

6

Mayo 

139

144

73

TBC

Meath 

21

21

12

12

Monaghan   

31

28

10

14

Offaly 

31

31

11

9

Roscommon 

92

91

21

21

Sligo 

22

22

7

7

Tipperary 

25

32

21

TBC

Waterford 

19

20

4

3

Westmeath 

22

22

12

12

Wexford 

17

17

11

TBC

Wicklow 

15

15

11

10

TOTAL 

912

932

411

201