The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.
In 2020, my Department provided support through the €45m COVID 19 Stability Fund for organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises. The Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19. It should be noted that there was no requirement under this fund or any other supports provided by DRCD for eligible organisations to have their facilities open, all organisations were expected to be compliant with the national COVID restrictions in place at all times.
Funding of €44m has been approved to just under 600 organisations to date and the payment processes for this funding remain ongoing. The Stability Fund is now closed for further applications. Lists of successful applicants are available on my Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/.
Along with other broader Government initiatives, my Department has introduced a suite of programmes to support community and voluntary organisations weather the impact of Covid19.
My Department currently supports over 420 community organisations under the Community Services Programme (CSP) to provide local services through a social enterprise model. In response to the difficulties being experienced by organisations due to COVID-19, my Department developed a CSP Support Fund during 2020 totalling €4.75m which assists CSP supported organisations to continue to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also provides assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution, during this crisis period up to April 2021.
The 2020 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) was launched in June 2020 with funding of €2m and provides small capital grants to community organisations. Separately, with funding from the July stimulus package, my Department launched a €5m fund under the CEP for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. While it is now closed for 2020, it is hoped to run the CEP again in 2021.
More recently my Department launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which local community and voluntary groups can apply for by contacting the Local Community Development Committee in their area. This follows on from a previous €2.5m round of this fund.
The Rural Development Investment Programme is being tailored to address the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19. This includes schemes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme through which Local Authorities were provided with grant funding for interventions that helped local communities respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and to help support the economic and social recovery of our rural towns and villages. The 2020 Town and Village Scheme has now closed. However, details of the 2021 Scheme will be circulated to all Local Authorities when it is launched later this year.
My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19. I would encourage all groups to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.
Information on all funding available through my Department can be found on my Department's website.