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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 812-822

Rural Schemes

Questions (812)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

812. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Question No. 32 of 14 October 2021, the status of the promised €2 million scheme to fund the development of town masterplans; the details of the scheme; the selection criteria for the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61117/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

On 9 December last I announced €2.6 million in funding to deliver Town Centre First Plans in 26 towns across the country. The development of these 26 Plans will feed into the Government’s overall Town Centre First Policy, which I expect will be launched in the coming weeks.

The funding will support each local authority, working with a collaborative Town Team, to develop a be-spoke Town Centre First plan to guide the development of each town. As part of the initiative, each local authority will be provided with €100,000 to support the development of a unique vision for the town which will also outline specific interventions required to deliver on this vision.

The Town Centre First Plans should be guided by a strong empirical base and be developed collaboratively with local Town Teams involving community and business, as well as public and private stakeholders. It is envisaged that the Plans will cover the importance of “place-making”, town centre living, and the social and economic purpose of the town. They should respond to emerging opportunities such as those linked to remote working, climate action and digitalisation. The Plans will also be central to addressing vacancy and dereliction in these locations.

In addition to developing the plan, the funding can be used to cover any underlying analysis that must be undertaken to inform the development of the plan, capacity building required locally for the Town Team, or the initial delivery of some small interventions in the town, where the budget allows.

The towns were selected based on submissions from the local authorities. Local authorities were requested to identify not more than three towns with a population of up to 10,000 people that are located outside of the 5 city metropolitan areas. One town was then selected by my Department in each county based mainly on the priority indicated by each local authority.

Regeneration Projects

Questions (813)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

813. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Question No. 69 of 14 October 2021, the status of the report on the town centre first approach; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61131/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Town Centre First policy is a commitment under the Programme for Government, and in Our Rural Future and Housing For All. My Department and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage have jointly been developing the policy which is now finalised. The policy will be launched in the coming weeks.

The new Town Centre First Policy will be an important catalyst for Local Authorities and local stakeholders to plan for, and deliver, revitalisation in their towns. To support this, and in advance of the announcement of the Town Centre First policy, I announced €2.6m of funding last week for the delivery of Town Centre First Plans in 26 towns. I also secured funding of €2 million in Budget 2022 for Town Regeneration Officers who will support the roll-out of the Town Centre First policy nationally.

Flexible Work Practices

Questions (814)

Steven Matthews

Question:

814. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the position regarding developing and expanding of enterprise hubs remote working hub infrastructure in rural Ireland, particularly in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61142/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Our Rural Future, Ireland’s Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, recognises the opportunity for rural rejuvenation that remote working presents and commits to establishing a comprehensive and integrated network of remote working hubs over the lifetime of the policy to 2025.

A number of funding streams operated by my Department directly support this commitment. For example, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme both support the establishment of new digital hubs. Under this year's schemes, projects that bring vacant properties in town centres back into use as remote working hubs were eligible to apply for funding. Projects that repurpose existing community or publicly owned buildings in town or village centres to facilitate remote working were also eligible.

In addition, earlier this year I awarded almost €9 million in funding through the Connected Hubs funding stream to add capacity to remote working infrastructure in digital hubs and broadband connection points throughout the country. Details of successful applications, including those in County Wicklow, are available on my Department's website.

In May I launched the National Connected Hubs network together with the connectedhubs.ie platform. The platform offers a suite of booking and hub management applications to members of the Network. There are currently 170 hubs live on the platform, with this number growing on an ongoing basis. Table 1 (attached) provides the number of remote working hubs onboarded onto the platform to date by county, together with remote working hubs that have been mapped and are invited to join the National Connected Hubs Network.

TABLE 1 - NATIONAL HUBS NETWORK STATUS

County

Live on the connectedhubs.ie platform

Mapped and invited to join the connectedhubs.ie platform

Carlow

4

3

Cavan

3

6

Clare

10

7

Cork

13

18

Donegal

11

11

Dublin

27

38

Galway

16

27

Kerry

13

13

Kildare

3

7

Kilkenny

1

5

Laois

4

5

Leitrim

7

14

Limerick

10

11

Longford

2

3

Louth

3

7

Mayo

11

21

Meath

0

12

Monaghan

6

3

Offaly

4

10

Roscommon

4

14

Sligo

3

9

Tipperary

4

21

Waterford

4

8

Westmeath

0

8

Wexford

5

9

Wicklow

2

4

TOTAL

170

294

The development of a national hubs network is a key commitment in Our Rural Future and I am committed to continuing my Department's support for the development of remote working hubs in recognition of the vital role that they can play in our post-Covid recovery.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (815)

Alan Dillon

Question:

815. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of her Department’s engagement with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in finalising funding for LEADER; the efforts being to maximise the budget for LEADER as part of the CAP strategic plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61155/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The LEADER Programme is one of the key interventions of Our Rural Future, the Government’s Policy for rural development launched earlier this year.

An indicative budget of €180 million was recently announced for the LEADER programme for the period 2023-2027. When taken together with the €70 million already provided for 2021 and 2022 under the Transitional LEADER Programme, a total of €250 million will be made available for the 2021 - 2027 period, thus maintaining the level of funding provided for the 2014-2020 programming period. The maintenance of the €250m funding allocation will underpin the continued contribution of the LEADER approach in delivering on the Government’s vision for Rural Ireland.

Preparations for the design and delivery of the next LEADER programme from 2023-2027 are well underway. This includes an independent review of the delivery structures of the current programme, which is nearing completion. This review will draw on the experience of all stakeholders in the 2014 to 2020 LEADER programme and help to underpin effective scheme design for the new LEADER programme.

My officials are engaging with stakeholders on an ongoing basis on the design of the next LEADER programme. They are also working closely with colleagues from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the EU Commission, in developing the next CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027, which LEADER will form part of.

The ongoing engagement and consultation with stakeholders combined with the funding allocation indicated will ensure that the LEADER programme from 2023 will continue to support and further develop our rural communities and businesses.

Industrial Relations

Questions (816)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

816. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will establish a collective bargaining forum to negotiate pay and conditions of employment across the community and voluntary sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61170/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The mission of my Department is to promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland.

Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities - A five year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 2019-2024, reaffirms the Government’s commitment to supporting the community and voluntary sector as a whole and addressing some of the burdens faced by service providers, whilst also recognising the reality of finite resources and the need to ensure that available resources are focused on providing effective services.

My Department has no role in setting the terms and conditions, including pay, of workers, which are internal matters for the relevant organisations. Whilst the Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities strategy commits to scoping and developing a sustainable funding model for the sector, there are no commitments in relation to the terms and conditions of such staff which remain a matter for their employer, nor in relation to the establishment of a collective bargaining forum for the sector.

Community Development Projects

Questions (817)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

817. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the budget allocation for the community enhancement programme for 2020 and 2021; and the budget allocation for same in 2022, in tabular form. [61278/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) was first launched by my Department in 2018. It provides small grants to community organisations with a focus on those organisations in disadvantaged areas. The funding is provided to each Local Authority area and is distributed by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDC) in that area on the basis of local need. Since 2018 the CEP has funded in excess of 12,000 projects/organisations across the country.

As set out in the table below,

- In 2020 , the CEP received total funding of €7.2m, including €5m received as part of the Government's July stimulus package for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community facilities.

- I launched the 2021 CEP on the 10th May with an allocation of €4.5m. The key theme of this year’s programme is supporting groups as they re-open facilities which were closed due to COVID-19.

- In November I launched the Community Activities Fund (CA-Fund) administered under the Community Enhancement Programme with funding of €9m. This fund will support groups, particularly in disadvantaged areas, with operating costs such as utility and insurance bills, as well as funding to carry out necessary repairs and improvements to their facilities. It will also provide small grants for capital projects or equipment.

- It is planned to run the CEP again in 2022 with an allocation of €4.5m.

Year

2020

2021

2022

CEP funding

€7.2m

€13.5m

€4.5m

Rural Schemes

Questions (818)

Matt Carthy

Question:

818. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 9, 15 and 21 of 14 April 2011 and 1267 of 2 November 2021, the funding for the LEADER programme during the 2007 to 2013 period; the reason for the discrepancy between the replies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61476/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

From 2007 to 2020, LEADER was included in the suite of measures that constituted Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP). The Rural Development Programmes agreed by each Member State with the EU Commission were designed to correspond to specified Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programming periods. The CAP programming periods in turn correspond to the EU's budgetary cycle. The Rural Development Programme (RDP) will now be replaced by each Member State’s CAP Strategic Plan.

As part of the 2007 to 2013 CAP programming period, LEADER was included as a number of linked measures under Axis 4 of the RDP. The original amount of funding that was made available to LEADER under that Rural Development Programme was approximately €425m.

Initially, €400m was allocated to the Local Action Groups (LAGs) for project funding and administration with €25m being withheld for future distribution. The LEADER programme evolves over the course of the 7 year period and, depending on the circumstances, can be amended with the agreement of the EU Commission.

In 2013, due to the downturn in the national economy and following an amendment to the RDP which was negotiated with the European Commission, the allocations to the LAGs were revised resulting in a change in the co-financing rate and a decrease in the overall programme allocation. The revised allocations to the LAGs amounted to approximately €327m. In some instances, the reduced level of funding was insufficient to meet the commitments of the LAGs and additional national exchequer funding in the region of €47m was approved to meet these commitments. Additional funding for the food sector of €3m was also approved. In total, €377m was made available for the period 2007 to 2013.

The final spend achieved by the LAGs up to the end of December 2015 was approximately €366m.

In the 2024-2020 RDP a total allocation of €250m was available for LEADER, and this allocation has been maintained for the 2021-2027 period.

Tionscadail Fhorbartha Pobail

Questions (819)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

819. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail cén dul chun cinn atá déanta le measúnú a dhéanamh ar iarratas faoin gClár Seirbhísí Pobail (sonraí tugtha); agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [61510/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

I láthair na huaire, tugann an Clár Seirbhísí Pobail (CSP), á riaradh ag Pobal thar ceann mo Roinnse, tacaíocht do bhreis agus 420 eagraíocht phobail chun seirbhísí áitiúla a chur ar fáil trí mhúnla fiontraíochta sóisialta.

Chun bheith incháilithe, ní mór d’eagraíochtaí a bheith ina bhfiontair shóisialta a bhfuil sé de chumas acu ioncam a ghineadh óna gcuid gníomhaíochtaí d’fhonn costais iomlána thuarastail na bpost a dtacaítear leo a íoc, mar shampla, ó ioncam ó úsáid phoiblí saoráidí agus seirbhísí.

Sa bhliain 2020, thug Indecon International Economic Consultants faoi athbhreithniú neamhspleách ar an gClár Seirbhísí Pobail thar ceann mo Roinnse. Foilsíodh an tuarascáil deiridh ar an 30 Meán Fómhair 2020 agus bhí Plean Gníomhaíochta Ardleibhéil ag gabháil léi inar leagadh amach an amlíne maidir le cur i bhfeidhm céimnithe um athstruchtúrú an chláir.

I láthair na huaire, tá mo Roinnse agus Pobal, a riarann an clár thar ceann na Roinne, ag obair ar athstruchtúrú an chláir i gcomhar le Grúpa Comhairleach, ina bhfuil baill ó phríomhpháirtithe leasmhara ón earnáil lena n-áirítear eagraíochtaí a thacaíonn CSP leo, eagraíochtaí náisiúnta, ionadaithe pobail agus ionadaithe fiontair sóisialta.

Go dtí go n-aistreofar chuig an gclár nua athstruchtúrtha, ní ghlacfar le hiarratais nua ar an scéim trí phróiseas an léirithe spéise.

Tabhair ar aird nár chuir an eagraíocht atá faoi thrácht léiriú spéise faoi bhráid na Roinne sular dhún an próiseas iarratais i mí Mheán Fómhair 2020.

É sin ráite, táthar ag súil go n-osclóidh an Clár glaonna chun aghaidh a thabhairt ar bhearnaí aitheanta i seachadadh na seirbhíse le linn 2022. Dá mba mhaith leis an eagraíocht go gcoimeádfaí a cuid sonraí teagmhála ar taifead laistigh den Roinn, rachaimid i dteagmháil nuair a osclóidh an glao spriocdhírithe in 2022. Is féidir sonraí teagmhála a chur ar fáil don Roinn ar csp@drcd.gov.ie

Departmental Budgets

Questions (820)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

820. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Question No. 100 of 7 December 2021, the implications for her Department of the plan to use deferred surrender of funds; if the funds surrendered will be lost permanently to her Department; the amount that is likely to be involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61599/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

As the Deputy is aware, the Finance Act 2004 makes provision for Departments and agencies to carry forward capital money from the current financial year into the next financial year. This recognises the difficulties inherent in the planning and profiling of capital expenditure, and that such projects may be subject to delays.

Given the closure of construction sites for most of the first half of the year, in line with public health requirements, such delays were inevitable this year. I therefore decided to fully utilize this deferred surrender provision and will be carrying forward 10% of the Departments capital budget from 2021 to 2022. This amounts to €16.86 million in capital funding.

These funds are not lost, but are now available for use in 2022, where the funds will be used to further support capital schemes in the rural and community development programme areas. The use of this deferred surrender will ensure that the resources provided to my Department in 2021 are put to best use, and that the funds can be used to invest in rural areas and our communities in 2022.

Rural Schemes

Questions (821)

Michael Ring

Question:

821. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she has received a full written report in relation to a matter (details supplied); the up-to-date position; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61632/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) supports the improvement of rural roads and laneways that are not normally maintained by local authorities and represent a vital piece of infrastructure for rural communities.

As noted in my previous reply in respect of the matter raised by the Deputy, I asked my officials to request a written report from the relevant Local Authority in respect of the road in question.

Further details in respect of this matter have been provided to my Department by the relevant Local Authority. The material received references a number of engineering constraints linked to the proposed works. I have asked my officials to provide this further information to the Deputy under separate cover, and I will also arrange for this matter to be further reviewed by an Inspector from my Department.

Community Employment Drug Rehabilitation Projects

Questions (822)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

822. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the details of responses from her Department to the issues faced by areas of Tallaght, Dublin 24 that have been adversely impacted by the growth in crack cocaine usage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61857/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

I have been made aware of the issue raised by the Deputy.

There is unfortunately a growing trend in the community of an increased drug culture among those most marginalised that has seen many young people become involved in drug use, drug dealing and negative life choices.

While recognising that a multi-faceted approach is required to address these issues, my Department is playing its part by providing funding for a Detached Street Worker in the area in question that will engage the most at risk, marginalised young people, aged between 10-24yrs, on the streets rather than in a conventional youth work setting.

The Detached Street Worker will connect with the most vulnerable young people and support them to engage with the most relevant local services to address their needs.

My Department also provides €2.45m under SICAP to the South Dublin County Partnership Company, via South Dublin LCDC. This funds staff in the company to deliver supports to people in the area who are most in need.

My officials continue to work with other departments and with South Dublin County Council and South Dublin County Partnership to build a collaborative relationship with relevant agencies and Departments with aim of securing additional resources to further enhance the supports currently provided.

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