Written Answers. - Community Development.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

269 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the maximum percentage of grant aid that can be made available to the capital cost of a community development project through a combination of Leader and CLÁR in a CLÁR development area; if it is possible for a community development project in a CLÁR area receiving grant aid of 50% of the cost from Leader to receive a top-up from CLÁR funds in order that the burden on the community of providing 50% matching funds can be lessened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19174/03]

Under the community initiatives measure in the CLÁR programme, Leader and CLÁR can provide funding for capital purposes to community projects in CLÁR areas subject to certain conditions. CLÁR grants funds up to and equal to funds from the national rural development programme and, for innovative projects, from Leader+, subject to total public funding not being more than 50%. Leader can fund at least 50% of the agreed public funding with a maximum of 50% funding provided by CLÁR. The maximum amount of Leader funding may not exceed €65,000.

The maximum grant rate from all public sources – both EU and national – for capital expenditure under the Leader programmes is fixed at 50% by the EU Commission. To exceed this limit will result in a breach of EU state aid rules. However, my officials have raised the issue of increasing rates for community-based projects with the Commission in the past but without success. In the context of the mid term review of the programmes, we will be looking again at this issue and intend to raise it with the Commission at the review's conclusion.

The Leader programmes provide for significant amounts of voluntary labour to be counted as private funding thereby lessening the amounts of private funding to be raised. In many cases the amount to be raised locally is as low as 10%. An indicative list of what constitutes public and non-public funding follows:

Sources of Funding

Public

Private

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Yes

Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism (LOTTERY) (Capital Sports Grants)

Yes

Department of Social and Family Affairs (LOTTERY)

Yes

The Ireland Funds

Yes

BMW Operational Programme

Yes

S&E Operational Programme

Yes

Name of Community Group

Yes

County Enterprise Board

Yes

County Enterprise Fund

Yes

Partnership Companies

Yes

Gaeltacht Community Facilities/Sports Grants

Yes

Own resources

Yes

Other (Please specify)

LEADER

Yes

CLÁR

Yes