€23 million in additional investment for rural Ireland and our communities
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys T.D., and Minister of State with responsibility for Communities, Joe O’Brien T.D., today welcomed the 341 million euro to the Department of Rural and Community Development as part of Budget 2021.
The two Ministers have secured €23 million of additional funding, representing an overall 7pc increase in funding.
The Budget has a particular focus on supporting rural communities that have been impacted by Covid-19.
Among the measures contained in the Budget include:
• An extra €5 million to invest in remote working facilities at Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) and Digital Hubs
• €2 million extra to fund masterplans for up to 50 town centres
• An additional €2 million for greenways, blueways, trails and other amenities
• Extra funding for schemes such as LEADER, CLÁR and the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF)
• €2 million in additional funding for our islands
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
This Budget allocation of €341 million clearly demonstrates the Government’s commitment to our rural towns, villages and communities.
Rural Ireland has shown tremendous resilience during Covid-19 and this budget allocation will centre upon economic recovery, job creation and the digital economy.
I’m particularly pleased to see further investment in remote, or connected, working. And our commitment to our island communities is also evident through increased capital funding.
An additional €2million in funding has been secured for the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme bringing total funding to €12m in 2021.
This will enable us to develop more greenways, cycleways and walking trails as we seek to build on the greatly increased interest in outdoor activities and staycations caused by COVID19.
Along with Minister O’Brien, I am confident this Government will take the measures necessary to strengthen our rural communities and ensure a fair and balanced recovery for all.
Welcoming today’s Budget announcement, Minister O’Brien said:
I am especially pleased to see an increase in the funding for volunteering, the community services programme and new community development projects. The response to the Covid pandemic has shown just how important community services and the community and voluntary sector is. This budget will allow us to continue our strong support for the area and ensure we continue to help those in our communities who need it most.
Notes for editors:
Key measures in Budget 2021:
• The funding provided will ensure the Department continues its range of successful schemes and programmes, and maintains or increases funding levels for these.
• Funding for the Rural Regeneration and Development programme area will increase from €78 million in 2020 to €87 million in 2021. This consists of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (€55 million in 2021); Town and Village Renewal (€20 million in 2021), and; the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (€12 million in 2021).
• This increased funding will see additional investment in these successful programmes, driving economic recovery, growth and job creation in rural areas. The €5 million increase in Town and Village Renewal will provide for targeted investment in digital hubs and broadband connection points. It will assist these to become a focus for communities and enable workers and students to work remotely.
• Funding for the Local Improvement Scheme will increase from €10 million to €10.5 million and funding for the CLAR programme from €5 million to €5.5 million – 5% and 10% increases respectively.
• The LEADER programme will see its allocation increase from €40 million in 2020 to €44 million in 2021. This builds on an increase from €30 million to €40 million in the previous budget. This programme drives local rural development across three themes of economic development, social inclusion, and the rural environment. It invests in sectors such as tourism development and food sectors – and is vital to support rural economic resilience and recovery, and to support job creation in rural Ireland. The allocation will be used to meet existing commitments under the current programme and will also enable transitional arrangements, between the current LEADER programme and the next EU funded programme to be put in place.
• Funding for the Islands will increase from €9 million to €11 million with €1m of this facilitating a range of capital works and the other €1m for services provision to the Islands.
• Key programmes in the Community Development area include the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and the Community Services Programme (CSP). The SICAP allocation will be maintained at €44 million and an additional €1m in funding is being provided to support social inclusion through new pilot community development projects at local level. Provision for the CSP programme is increasing from €46.9 to €48.9 million – helping to support community organisations and secure important community services across the country.
• Also in the Community Development area, supports for Volunteering will increase from €3.5 million to €5.1 million. This will help to increase the level of volunteering across the country and to match volunteers to those organisation needing assistance. This is especially important given the role of volunteers in the Covid response.
• Budget 2021 also provides continued funding of €7m for the PEACE programme. The programme aims to improve cross-community relations and further integrate divided communities in the Northern Ireland and the Border region.
• The funding provided to the Department also facilitates the agencies of the Department, namely the Charities Regulator, the Western Development Commission, and Water Safety Ireland to continue their important work.
Further details on all programmes administered by the Department can be found at www.gov.ie/drcd