Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (806)

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

806. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the supports in place for voluntary organisations that have been unable to raise funds during the Covid-19 pandemic and are now in danger of having to close down. [15959/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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. In that context my Department is providing funding supports to organisations through a number of different schemes.

The Community and Voluntary Sector Covid-19 Stability Fund is 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.

This fund will provide €35 million of funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF) and the criteria align with DAF objectives to support:

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

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

3. Persons with a disability.

Over one thousand applications were received during the application period. Due to the considerable interest in the Stability Scheme and in order to ensure that funding is released as quickly as possible, applicants were considered in smaller groupings.

The first tranche of funding was announced on Friday 26 June last, with 179 organisations being awarded €10.5 million in funding, the full list can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/.

Decisions on further tranches are being now being considered.

The Innovate Together Fund was opened on 13 May 2020. The focus of the Fund is on supporting innovative responses to the Covid-19 crisis and is supported by a commitment of €5 million from my Department via the Dormant Accounts Fund. Social Innovation Fund Ireland pledges to raise additional philanthropic funds for this initiative and is responsible for the administration of the Fund with oversight from my Department. Applications are open to established charities, social enterprises and to local, regional and national voluntary groups and organisations who are based in Ireland and who are delivering services to the most vulnerable communities immediately impacted by COVID-19. The first round of funding under this fund is now closed and applications are being assessed. Further rounds of funding will be announced in due course.

The Community Enhancement Programme provides small capital grants to community groups to improve facilities in their area, and the 2020 Programme was launched recently with funding of €2m. The Department gives flexibility to Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) to tailor the programme in each Local Authority area, so that it meets local priorities. It is recommended that applicants contact the LCDC in their area for further details.

The Community Services Programme (CSP), currently supports over 400 community organisations and my Department is fully committed to continuing to support those organisations. My Department has put in place an additional Support Fund for 2020 which will provide additional funding for a number of weeks to many of these organisations, ensuring that they can pay their full-time CSP supported employees a maximum of €350 net per week, with a proportionate amount for part-time CSP supported employees.

In addition to the measures which have been introduced by my Department for community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises, the Government has put in place a range of supports and guidance for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

A downloadable guide to these supports and their eligibility criteria is available at the link:

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Supports-for-businesses-impacted-by-COVID-19.pdf .

Details of enhanced government supports for businesses announced on 2 May 2020 are available at the link:

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2020/May/02052020.html.

Inquiries can be directed to the relevant contact points listed in the material.

My Department is continuing to liaise with representatives of the community and voluntary, charity and social enterprise sectors and with other Departments with relevant policy responsibility in relation to the challenges faced at this time. Assurances have been provided in relation to the continuation of exchequer funding supports for organisations in the sector. It is also worth mentioning that the Government Wage Subsidy Scheme will support employers in the sector to retain staff who are employed under non-Exchequer funding sources