Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (358)

Éamon Ó Cuív


358. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the additional funding of €10 million announced before Christmas 2020 for the Covid-19 emergency fund for community and voluntary groups will be rolled out; if there will be a new application process for this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7698/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

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.

The Community and Voluntary Sector COVID-19 Stability Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups currently 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. The criteria of the scheme stated that any grants awarded would be dependent on the need identified and organisations approved for funding were prioritised on that basis.

This fund is providing up to €45million of funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF) and the criteria aligned with DAF objectives to support:

1. The personal and social development of persons who are economically or socially disadvantaged; or

2. The educational development of persons who are educationally disadvantaged; or

3. Persons with a disability.

My Department received 1,060 applications during the application periods. To date, funding of just under €44 million, including the additional €10M in funding announced during Budget 2021, has been allocated to c. 600 organisations.

When the Stability Fund was initially established, it was envisaged that social restrictions would be in place for a limited period and grant levels allocated were based on this assumption. It was subsequently necessary to reintroduce restrictions and in this context the majority of organisations that were approved for funding under the Stability Fund received a top-up grant. This was to support them as they continue to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on their ability to trade and fundraise normally.

This funding is now supporting the delivery of many critical front line services in every part of the country. Though the fund is now closed to new applications, a very small number of organisations continue to engage in the appeals process. Outcomes of these appeals will be communicated on an individual basis as decisions are finalised.

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