The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will administer the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. In this context the Department will host a public consultation exercise on the LEADER elements of the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Thursday 6th February 2014 from 11am until 4.30pm.
Anyone with an interest in community led local development and its role in rural Ireland is welcome to attend. Please register to attend by sending your name to email@example.com by COB on Friday 31st January 2014.
The representative body of Local Development Companies (LDCs) in Ireland, the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), has questioned the cuts to the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP); the only national anti-poverty and social inclusion programme in place.
Under Europe 2020 – Europe’s growth strategy, Ireland has set national targets aimed at reducing poverty rates in Ireland. These national targets aim to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020. While these are ambitious and admirable targets, there remains only one national anti-poverty and social inclusion programme in place; the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), yet it has seen a cut to its budget for 2014.
The LCDP is run by 50 LDCs in Ireland. These companies, for over 20 years, have successfully delivered a range of economic and social programmes that support enterprise and employment as well as promote social inclusion and rural development. The programme targets those who are most marginalised and at greatest risk of social exclusion including; low income families, disadvantaged young people, lone parents, older people and people with disabilities.
ILDN Director, Brian Carty, said: “Despite its clear focus on anti-poverty and social inclusion measures, the LCDP budget has been cut nearly in half since 2008. While the cuts each year have varied in their severity, the cumulative impact of them over this time has put a strain on the delivery of the programme. We all need to cut our cloth to suit our measure, however it is in times of recession that investment rather than cuts to anti-poverty and social inclusion programmes are needed. This is no more evident than through the 19% increase since 2011 of those accessing one to one intensive LCDP supports.
“This increase is not surprising when the rates of poverty, deprivation and exclusion are continuing to rise in Ireland. In fact, between 2010 and 2011, the number of people in consistent poverty or at risk of poverty, rose by 127,000 people. This means that 327,000 people will have to be removed from the poverty or at risk of poverty bracket by 2020 to achieve Ireland’s 2020 targets. It is not clear however, how reducing the budget of Ireland’s only national anti-poverty and social inclusion programme will assist in achieving this”, the ILDN Director added.
The positive impact the LCDP has had on communities nationwide is evidenced thoroughly the Centre for Effective Services Mid-Term Review of the LCDP 2011-2012. It acknowledges the internationally recognised work done by LDCs at local level in tackling poverty, and highlights the challenges LDCs have in programme delivery due to the downward shift to the LCDP budget.
The report also outlines some of the headline figures from the Programme for 2012. Last year alone, 47,792 people, mainly from disadvantaged communities, were provided with education and training supports. Of this, 1,370 individuals were supported into employment and 5,684 individuals were supported into self-employment. With the help of their communities, the 50 LDCs managed to achieve all this despite the budget cuts. They also leveraged an additional €100 million from other statutory and philanthropic sources in order to complete projects that may otherwise not have been completed without these additional funds.
“It is very easy to quote statistics and targets, but behind each one is a person whose life has changed or has the potential to, if the correct supports are in place. It is important that we do not lose sight of this and remain focused on helping those who are most vulnerable in our society. Targeting the only national anti-poverty and social inclusion programme however is not the way to do this. The LCDP is at tipping point; no more cuts can be sustained. If Ireland is to achieve the Europe 2020 targets, the Local and Community Development Programme must be supported and enhanced”, the ILDN Director concluded.
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, T.D., today launched two reports that outline recommendations for significantly developing the craft sector in Ireland which provides vital employment in local economies throughout the country and generates an output of almost half a billion euros.
Plans for the integration of a craft strategy into the Regional Development Plan strategies 2014 – 2020 and for the adoption of a number of recommendations from the reports were announced by the Local Development Companies (LDCS) in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoI). The partnership between LDCS and CCoI provides a road map for future investment and joint actions in the development of the crafts sector leading to growth and job creation in rural economies.
The two reports were commissioned by The West Cork Development Partnership on behalf of a consortium of LDCs represented by the umbrella group for LDCs in Ireland; the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN). The consortium of LDCs included; Ballyhoura Development Ltd; Wexford Local Development; Kilkenny LEADER Partnership; and South Tipperary Development Company, who all worked in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland.
In launching the reports Minister Hogan said: “I am delighted that these agencies have collaborated on this important research project and are exploring the significant opportunities which the reports have highlighted for cooperation in the regional development of Ireland’s craft sector. While there are many craft enterprises of scale, the crafts sector in Ireland is primarily made up of micro-enterprises which form an important part of rural and local economies. By supporting and developing our indigenous craft industry, talented designers and makers throughout the country can play a vital role in contributing to sustainable economic renewal. These reports provide a comprehensive evidence base for future actions and investment in Ireland’s innovative craft sector.”
In both reports, the participating regions are reflective of various stages of development of the craft sector throughout Ireland and provide a sound basis for the development of programmes and investment nationally.
‘Creative Clusters - An economic analysis of the current status and future clustering potential for the crafts industry in Ireland’ by Indecon International Economic Consultants examines the economic value of the craft sector. It outlines the sector’s contribution towards prosperous and sustainable rural economies through job creation, tourism and quality of life and highlights their potential to benefit from economies of scale through clusters. The report provides a series of recommendations that can be jointly undertaken by CCoI and the network of local development companies that have the potential to lead to significant growth.
‘Mapping the Craft Sectors in Southern Ireland’ by Willie Miller Urban Design (WMUD) examines the environmental, economic and infrastructural conditions that have led to the development of craft clusters in specific regions. It provides a model that underpins the rationale for LDC support for the crafts sector and other creative/cultural industries and surmises that the value of this group of industries lies not so much in the contribution of individual enterprises but in their collective effects.
CCoI’s Chief Executive Karen Hennessy said: “The Crafts Council of Ireland is committed to developing active partnerships with Local Development Companies in order to maximise resources and extend our combined reach in the development of the crafts industry in Ireland and internationally. We look forward to working with the Local Development Companies in providing relevant and cost-effective supports to craft enterprises throughout the country in order to sustain and grow this innovative sector.”
Ms. Hennessy noted that both reports are based on the current and future role of the LDC in the strategic growth of the crafts sector and therefore do not reflect the investment and supports provided by Enterprise Ireland, the County and City Enterprise Boards and other strategic partners. “I would like to acknowledge our many public and private partners in education, enterprise, tourism, culture, and at local and national level whose commitment, energy and on-going investment is vital in sustaining and developing Ireland’s craft sector,” she concluded.
“A vibrant partnership between the CCoI, the LEADER programme and many local stakeholders represents a strong platform for further collaboration in the development, provision and funding of a range of projects that can deliver upon the recommendations made in the reports,” added Ian Dempsey, Chief Executive Officer, West Cork Development Partnership.
CCoI and LDC intend to adopt selected recommendations from the reports as suitable and appropriate for integration into Regional Development Plan strategies 2014 – 2020. These include:
- The development and delivery of a ‘Scalable Craft Enterprise’ programme with West Cork Development Partnership which aims to work with a number of craft enterprises to put appropriate mechanisms in place to achieve scalability and to develop a model that can be rolled out to other regions
- Enhancement of the cluster capability in the craft sector through the development of networks and facilities and through the promotion of inter-sectoral development between craft, tourism, food and complimentary sectors.
Many craft enterprises already receive funding from Local Development Companies to attend key events during the year, including the annual trade show Showcase – Ireland’s Creative Expo which returns to the RDS on 19th January 2014, attracting buyers from 26 countries around the world.
Today’s announcement was made at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny and was attended by CEOs of Local Development Companies, LEADER, Local Councillors and several craftspeople, as well as representatives of Indecon, ILDN and WMUD. The two reports are a result of research undertaken as a follow up to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2012 between the Crafts Council of Ireland and the Irish Local Development Network. Following a competitive tender process, the contracts for the research were awarded and work commenced in January 2013.
The representative body of Local Development Companies (LDCs) in Ireland, the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), has called on both the Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan T.D., and the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine, Simon Coveney, to secure 10% of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) budget for LEADER.
ILDN Chair, John Walsh, said: “The current LEADER programme has been shown to be very successful in supporting rural communities and enterprises, successfully committing its €370m budget in full to projects by the end of last year. In fact, many more projects remain in the pipeline as there were not enough funds available to commit to them.”
It is important that the momentum demonstrated by LEADER LDCs is not lost. The current LEADER programme finishes at the end of 2014. The EU have made advance funding available to Member States to facilitate planning by the LEADER groups for the next LEADER programme, which should start early in 2015.
The EU has indicated that an effective planning process for a local LEADER strategy should take between 6 and 12 months. It is therefore critical that the Department makes this preparatory funding available to the 35 existing LEADER groups as soon as possible to facilitate commencement work on preparing local development strategies for 2015-2020 in a timely manner.
The LEADER LDCs are aware that the next round of funding will be less than the current programme. However, if the Government matches the EU’s commitment of funding 50:50, then LDCs are confident that 10% of the RDP budget will ensure a reasonable level of funding for rural communities for the 2014-2020 period and will build on the successes of LEADER over the last 20 years.