Our Rural Future: Enhanced Community Centre Fund highlight of €390 million Rural Development Budget for 2023 – Ministers Humphreys and O’Brien

· €20 million in funding to be provided for targeted scheme for new build community centres as well as upgrades and improvements to existing centres

· Further €20 million to assist small community groups with €10 million of this targeted at energy costs

· €200 million for Key Rural Development schemes such as Town and Village Renewal, LEADER and the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund

· Announcement made as Ireland hosts landmark OECD Rural Development Conference in County Cavan

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State, Joe O’Brien TD, have today announced funding of €20 million for community centres across the country in 2023.

Under an enhanced Community Centres Investment Fund, grants will now be provided for the delivery of new build community centres in targeted areas as well as upgrades or improvement works to existing Community Centres.

The Ministers also confirmed that they have secured a further €20 million to assist small community groups with €10 million of this targeted at helping with energy bills.

The measures for community centres are among the highlights of €390 million budget for rural and community development.

The announcement was made by Minister Humphreys at a major international conference in County Cavan, which is being attended by over 400 delegates as well as Rural Development Ministers from the United States, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovenia and a number of other countries.

The conference, which is being co-hosted by Ireland and the OECD, is focusing on the theme, ‘Building Sustainable, Resilient and Thriving Rural Places’.

It’s the first time Ireland has hosted such an event.

Speaking from the event in Cavan, Minister Humphreys said:

“This week’s Budget provides over €390 million in funding for rural communities the length and breadth of the country.

“I’m really pleased that the Budget contains significant funding for our community centres, which have been so important for people of all ages as we’ve reconnected coming out of Covid-19.

“€20 million in funding will be allocated next year to groups to carry out upgrades and refurbishments to their centres. Crucially this funding will also support the delivery of a new targeted scheme to support new build community centres.

“I also plan to make €20 million immediately available to support community groups impacted by the rising cost of living, with half of this targeted at assisting with energy costs. Details on this will be made available by my Department shortly.’’

“I’m delighted to announce this funding this week as Ireland hosts a major rural development conference in conjunction with the OECD.

“Ireland has been chosen to host this conference in recognition of our unique rural development policy, ‘Our Rural Future’, which is held up internationally as an example of how rural development policy should be implemented.”

Under Budget 2023, over €200 million in funding is available for the Department’s Rural Development schemes such as Town and Village Renewal, LEADER and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).

It also provides funding increases for the continued provision of lifeline transport services to our offshore islands. This demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to Our Rural Future, with investment in rural development more than doubling since 2018.

Some €190 million is available for the Department’s Community Development Programmes.

Funding for the Community Services Programme (CSP), which provides a contribution to employment costs of workers in community organisations, will increase by €3.5 million, to over €52 million in 2023.

This will help ensure that organisations providing community services are funded on a more sustainable basis and that these important services continue to be provided throughout the country.

Budget 2023 also provides €11 million to assist with the community response to the Ukraine crisis. This supports work to assist and help integrate arrivals from the Ukraine into local communities throughout the country.

Minister of State O’Brien added:

“Budget 2023 demonstrates Governments continued commitment to support community development, and the community and voluntary sector.

“Increased funding for the Community Services Programme brings the total for this programme to over €52 million and provides the opportunity to proceed with a new model. There will also be increases for Community Development, Volunteer Centres and Public Participation Networks.

“I am particularly pleased that €11 million is available to continue to support the community response to the Ukraine crisis. The sector has played a vital role in helping people settle and integrate within their new communities, and this will continue throughout 2023.”

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