The Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands has published its pre-Budget 2022 submission to the Minister for Rural and Community Development.
Supports for remote working, changes to the funding framework of the voluntary and charitable sector, additional supports for communities and community organisations, improved transport links to the islands, including a new air service for Inishbofin, are among the recommendations in the report.
Cathaoirleach of the Committee Denis Naughten TD said: “The pandemic has made it very clear that a shift to remote working across Ireland is possible, offering the chance to breathe new life and build new communities in rural Ireland. It is essential that Budget 2022 grasps this opportunity to help make that move to remote working possible in the long-term.
“The Committee’s pre-Budget submission is recommending that financial assistance and training supports are provided in the first instance to support public and private sectors employers to encourage staff to work from home or from remote working hub.”
The pre-Budget report makes several significant recommendations in relation to community organisations and the voluntary and charitable sector.
Deputy Naughten said: “These groups are the backbone of life in Ireland, providing jobs, tourism, care and health supports and housing to a significant part of our population. It is essential they are supported. Similarly, there are several schemes and initiatives in rural Ireland that must be protected.”
Overall, the report makes 45 recommendations to support communities, rural development and the Islands including:
- The establishment of multi-annual – three to five-year – funding arrangements are for the Charitable and Voluntary Sector to facilitate and better enable long-term planning, assist effective staff recruitment and retention, and thereby deliver better and more sustainable services.
- Funding to ensure that staff in State-funded community and voluntary organisations are provided with the same supports and conditions typically provided to public servants
- Funding for 24-hour accessible defibrillators in all towns and villages across the country
- The doubling of funding for the Local Improvement Scheme
- €10 million be put in place for direct funding of major and minor capital development works on the islands
- An increase in funding for the Islands air and ferry services
- The funding of a new air service to Inishbofin – initially three days per week
- The doubling of funding for Western Development Commission
- An increase in the Community Enhancement Progamme Fund from €4.5 million to €10 million
- The increase of the Clár Fund
- Extra funding for the Walks scheme
- €44 million for the LEADER programme
- Funding and support to set-up Age Action groups in rural areas.
The Joint Committee of TDs and Senators examined ways to promote and protect life in rural Ireland as part of its pre-Budget work-programme.
Deputy Naughten thanked interested organisations and individuals who made submissions or took part in public meetings on the topic. He thanked Paul Donnelly TD who acted as the rapporteur on this report for his hard work and dedication to the topic.
Read the report and its recommendations.