AN EQUAL COVID RECOVERY MUST SHAPE BUDGET 2021
- Social inclusion through a Digital Inclusion Fund
- A community led Climate Budget
- Address the LEADER cliff-edge
- Long term vision for Local Development
The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) have called on the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Michael McGrath to ensure that Budget 2021 places equality of opportunity and social inclusion at the heart of Budget 2021. Representing Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies, the ILDN have published its Budget priorities ahead of next weeks Budget announcement.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted on the most vulnerable in society both in terms of the health and economic effects of the crisis. The Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) stands at almost 50% of what it was in 2008 (€43m 2020, €84.7m 2008). This deficit needs to be addressed to ensure that the Covid recovery is an equal recovery for all. As a social inclusion measure, ILDN proposes a ‘Digital Activation Fund’ to be administered by Local Development Companies in conjunction with SICAP to help bridge the digital divide which now exists . This fund would provide for a Digital Enabler to work with target groups, provide hardware and software to ensure the digital divide is not widened further and deliver training opportunities for specific target groups.
ILDN welcomes the Governments climate action ambitions and believes that local communities through Local Development Companies are strategically placed to deliver initiatives detailed in the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan. ILDN members deliver a range of transition based initiatives and with proper resources and a well funded community led climate budget can deliver more in partnership with local communities.
Budget 2021 must address the LEADER cliff edge with just eleven weeks remaining until the end of the current LEADER programme on the 31st December 2020. Government must outline a two year National Rural Development Programme to bridge the gap to the next LEADER Programme in 2022.
Delivering €330 million worth of State programmes annually, ILDN members require a sustainable funding model to ensure continuity of service in the areas of social inclusion, labour activation, rural development and climate action. Budget 2021 is an opportunity to put in place an appropriate funding model to meet the commitment in the five year ‘Sustainable, Inclusive, & Empowered Communities Strategy’.
Link to Irish Local Development Network Pre-Budget Submission 2021: