Minister of State for the Department for Rural and Community Development Joe O’Brien spoke about how rising inflation, the cost of fuel and energy is affecting community groups across the country.

The minister was responding to a question put to the Dáil newspaper by independent deputy Sean Kenny.

The minister said: “I am acutely aware of the increase in the cost of living and the rise in costs in recent months, particularly the rise in energy prices.

“With this in mind, the support the Department provides to help communities is more important than ever. The department has been allocated €378 million for 2022, which will allow it to continue to implement a wide range of measures to support communities and meet emerging needs.

“In November last year we launched a €9m Community Action Fund as part of the Community Improvement Programme. This fund allowed groups in disadvantaged areas to apply for funding for their current costs, such as utilities or insurance.

“Groups could also apply for funding to carry out repairs and purchase equipment in their communities. We hope to launch another program later this year.”

Minister O’Brien also referred to the expansion of the Community Service Program Support Fund that he announced recently.

He said that an additional €1 million had been added to this fund by the end of this year.

According to the Minister, more than 400 projects of communal programs are active throughout the country.

He said that a key part of the Department’s mission is to support social enterprises and noted that in July the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, launched a €1.5 million social enterprise scale-up scheme.

The Minister said: “In addition, the Department continues to provide a wide range of support to communities including, among others, the Community and Volunteer Support Programme, the Community Empowerment Fund and the National Organization Support Scheme.

“I am confident that this financial support and the envisaged policies will continue to bring tangible benefits to all communities. The Department continues to engage with rural and urban stakeholders to identify and respond to issues affecting communities.”

The minister concluded: “I will also continue to work with my colleagues across government to monitor issues that impact on communities to respond to emerging needs.”

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