I propose to take Questions Nos. 568 to 570, inclusive, together.
My Department's Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) superseded the Local Development Social Inclusion and the Community Development Programmes in 2010. LCDP is the largest social inclusion intervention of its kind in the State. The current Programme officially ended at the end of 2013 having operated for four years with funding of €281 million over that period. It is being implemented on a transitional basis until March 2015, pending the roll out of the new Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) in April 2015.
In accordance with the Public Spending Code, legal advice, good practice internationally and in order to ensure the optimum delivery of the services to clients, SICAP is subject to a public procurement process, which is currently underway. The closing date for receipt of tenders under stage two was noon on 19 December 2014. The tenders received are currently being evaluated and tenderers will be informed of the outcome by mid February. Contracts for SICAP will be determined following the outcome of the procurement process.
The procurement process for SICAP was open to Local Development Companies, other not-for-profit community groups, commercial firms and national organisations that can provide the services to be tendered for to deliver the new Programme. In Stage one, joint applications were encouraged and organisations of varying sizes (for example smaller organisations working in consortia with larger organisations) were invited to submit joint applications.
Consistent with the transitional arrangements to extend the LCDP until the roll out of SICAP in April 2015 and to ensure business continuity, interim LCDP funding will be provided to the Cherry Orchard Equine, Education and Training Centre up to end March 2015, pending the outcome of the SICAP competitive process. As Stage two of the process (Invitation to Tender) is currently underway, I am not in a position to meet with the group concerned at this time.
My Department appreciates the importance of the work of the Cherry Orchard Equine, Education and Training Centre. Nevertheless, the issues involved are broader than just those relating to SICAP. However, it is my Department’s intention to examine the position with regards to a number of groups, including the Cherry Orchard Equine, Education and Training Centre, in the near future and my Department will be in contact with the group in that regard.