The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) has expressed disappointment that no increase has been allocated to the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) for 2021. The SICAP remains at approximately 50% of what it was in 2008 (€43m 2021, €84.7m 2008). ILDN SICAP providers played a central role in communities across the country in responding to needs which emerged during the Covid lockdown and beyond. 2,200 individuals daily sought the assistance of their Local Development Company (LDC) during the lockdown period earlier this year.
ILDN acknowledges the economic difficulties the COVID19 pandemic has created and understands that Budget 2021 has been framed in this context. It is however disappointing that in a Budget where record funding has been provided across Departments and sectors that the opportunity to increase funding to the SICAP was not availed of.
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. It is inevitable that there will be an increased need for social inclusion measures as the full impact of the economic crisis is revealed.
ILDN welcomes the provision of €1m in funding being provided to support social inclusion through a new pilot community development projects at local level. It is now critical that the Minister and the Department engage with the ILDN and its member Local Development Companies in terms of the proposed delivery model for this support.