Government cut LEADER by €10 million to fund private roads scheme – Tóibín
Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has said that he is “appalled” at the government’s decision to take €10 million from LEADER funding to support the Local Improvement Scheme.
Deputy Tóibín received a response from a parliamentary question from Minister Ring outlining that LEADER funding had in fact decreased dramatically this year, contrary to the stated budget headings.
Minister Ring stated that his Department “sought approval from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to transfer €10 million from LEADER to support measures under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) in 2017”.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“LEADER is pivotal in providing local communities the resources they need to develop their areas. While the LIS which supports improvement works on private and non-public roads has obvious merits, I am appalled at the manner it has been funded – effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“The government and Fianna Fáil are complicit in producing a budget which is deliberately deceptive in its promises. This is a prime example. The original budgetary allocation for LEADER in 2017 was €40 million. This was quietly reduced during the year to €30 million.
“In this year’s Budget, the government announce €5 million additional funding for LEADER in 2018. However this was based on the reduced figure of €30 million, bringing this year’s allocation to €35 million. Therefore, significant cuts to funding during the year are concealed on the sly and are actually repackaged as an increase.
“This information has come to me via a parliamentary question to the Minister. It was in no way clear from the Budget figures themselves. The LIS has since been marketed about the country as a coup for Minister Ring when in fact the budget for essential community funding was being pilfered.
“LEADER funding has been of huge importance to rural communities throughout Ireland. Having once been a shining light for community leadership, changes brought about by Phil Hogan in 2014 have resulted in obtaining funds for local groups as a bureaucratic nightmare.
“Citizens have been made jump through 18 bureaucratic hoops just to achieve funding before they even start the particular project that they are seeking to develop. The over wrought process has ensured that only a hand full of projects have so far received funding in each county. Despite claims that the process has been reformed, funds are still not getting through to projects on the ground.
“LIS funding was initially announced at the Ploughing Championships last month, with the Taoiseach stating that ‘It's only right and fair that some of the motor tax, excise duty on fuel and local property tax paid by people in rural areas is invested in the repair of shared laneways’. He omitted to say the true source of funding for the scheme.”
Note: Please see the PQ in question below
For Written Answer on : 17/10/2017
Question Number(s): 541 Question Reference(s): 43896/17
Department: Rural and Community Development
To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the value of increase in the LEADER allocation for 2018 compared to the allocation for 2017 that was announced in budget 2017; and if the 2017 budget allocation was revised at some point, the detail of same.
The total amount of funding provided for the LEADER Programme over the period 2014-2020 is €250 million. LEADER is a multi-annual programme and the €250 million will be drawn down over the full lifetime of the programme.
The original allocation for LEADER for 2017 was €40 million, as reflected in the Vote for the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Following the transfer of functions from that Department to the Department of Rural and Community Development in July this year, a review of expenditure was carried out across all transferring programme areas in the context of the preparation of the 2018 Budget and Estimates.
While project approvals under LEADER have increased substantially since June, total expenditure under LEADER this year is likely to be less than anticipated. My Department therefore sought approval from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to transfer €10 million from the LEADER subhead (reducing allocation to €30 million in 2017) to support measures under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) in 2017. There was clearly sufficient demand to support the LIS scheme this year and the transfer of funding from LEADER does not, in any way, reduce the Government’s commitment to provide €250 million to LEADER over the duration of the programme.
The revisions to the allocations will be reflected in a Further Revised Estimate for my Department which will be presented to the Select Committee on Rural and Community Development shortly.
The provision sought in the 2018 Estimates for the LEADER programme is €35 million. I am satisfied this level of increase is in line with anticipated activity under the LEADER Programme in 2018. I will be keeping this under review.