Community development

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Funding for community development in 2011

Funding for community development in 2011
‘No more fancy lunches’

The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey, was questioned about the levels of funding available for community development in 2011 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 14th December 2011, 13-15, 22-23, 25-27).  The minister told Jim O’Keeffe (FG, Cork SW) that 2011 funding would be maintained close to 2010 levels, with an allocation of €63.5m representing a cut of about 6%.  As for the scheme of funding for national voluntary organizations, this would be extended on an interim basis, until March 2011 at the latest, to allow for the new scheme to be rolled out.  He referred to the 24,000 voluntary groups in the country, partnership companies and integrated companies and said:

I have informed the organizations that reductions will have to be made in the areas of administration, overheads, the printing of glossy brochures, the holding of fancy lunches, travel, etc.  In addition, they will be obliged to consider salary comparisons across the sector.

As for the integration of community development projects into local companies, in most cases this work had proceeded in a reasonable manner.  He was under no illusions but that there had been some pain at local level, but the vast majority of community development projects were well on their way to being integrated.  Later, he announced that he had approved alternative models in the case of HSE South, Limerick city, women’s groups and Northside Partnership (Dail Eireann, Debates, 14th December 2010, 117).  A small number still remained under active consideration and the groups would be advised of the outcome shortly.

He told Aengus O Snodaigh (SF, Dublin SC) and Michael D Higgins (Lab, Galway W) that his department would be working with the sector to achieve greater consolidation, coordination and efficiencies among service providers.  Aengus O Snodaigh asked the minister were the cuts made to the voluntary and community sector not grossly disproportionate.  Pat Carey told him that he had set out, with some success, to keep any reductions to an absolute minimum.  Any savings that could be made in administration, overheads and so on must be made to protect front-line services.  A significant amount of resources were still devoted to the community sector and one should not underestimate the impact that such funding has on the ability of those groups to carry out their programmes.

Separately, the minister told Frank Feighan (FG, Roscommon – Leitrim S) that spending in the area of drugs had been reduced on the current side between 1.3% and 1.7%, within an overall cut of about 2.7%.  Current spending this year was €32.79m, with €1m allocated to capital.