The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. Over 13,000 projects have now benefited from sports capital funding since 1998, bringing the total allocations in that time to over €1 billion.
On 30 November 2020, Minister Martin and I announced that a new 2020 round of the Programme was opening with at least €40 million available to allocate. The original closing date for applications was 12 February 2021 but in view of difficulties some applicants were encountering as a result of Covid restrictions, this deadline was extended until 1 March 2021. By this closing date, 3,106 applications had been submitted seeking over €200m in funding. This is the highest number of applications ever received.
The scoring system and assessment procedures were finalised and published earlier this year and all applications are being assessed in accordance with these procedures.
Approximately one thousand of the submitted applications were for 'equipment-only' projects. These applications were assessed first and grants with a total value of €16.6m were announced on 6 August 2021. The letter of provisional allocation encouraged all grantees to draw down this funding before year-end if possible and in recent weeks my Department has been prioritising the payments of all existing grants. Ensuring that as many older grants as possible are paid before year-end will maximise the funding available to allocate for the 2020 capital SCEP applications.
In relation to these 2020 capital SCEP applications, assessment work is continuing. No decision has been made to defer the allocations but given the record number of applications received, it is expected that this work will not now be completed and allocations made until early in the new year. Due to the nature of the SCEP programme, it can often take applicants a number of years to fully draw down their grants so the deferral of the announcement of allocations to the new year will not have significant implications for the total funding available to award.
In relation to the funding available to allocate, at least €34,535m has currently been provided for the SCEP in 2022. This represents an increase of €6.6m on the 2021 allocation. Furthermore I am in ongoing discussions with my colleague, Michael McGrath, T.D., the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to possible additional resources for the Programme. These discussions will conclude shortly.