Programme Contact Info

Contact: General Enquiries


Telephone: 01 511 7000

More Pobal Contact Information

What are the aims and objectives of the CSP?

The aim of the CSP is to support legally incorporated community organisations (companies limited by guarantee) and industrial and provident societies (co-operatives) to provide local social, economic and environmental services through the application of a social enterprise model of delivery.   

The objectives of the programme are as follows:

• To promote social enterprise as an approach to alleviating disadvantage and addressing local social, economic and environmental needs which are not being met through public or private funding or other resources.
• To create sustainable jobs for those most distant from the labour market, in particular for those who are long term unemployed and from specific target groups
• To promote sustainable social and economic development
• To enable service providers to lever additional public investment to improve facilities and services
• To strengthen local ownership through participation in decision making
• To support social innovation and encourage sharing of learning and expertise between participating service providers.

What is the difference between the CSP and other DSP supported programmes/schemes?

There are clear differences between the CSP and active labour market programmes run by the Department of Social Protection such as Community Employment, Tús, Gateway and the Rural Social Scheme.  Such programmes provide additional income to jobseekers in exchange for working a set number of hours, usually 19.5 hours per week, in a community based organisation or setting.  The objectives of such programmes are to provide individuals with work experience or placements in local community settings, in most cases for a defined period of time. The focus in the main is on the individual to assist re-entry to the labour market. 

On the contrary, the CSP provides a co-funding contribution to service providers to employ a manager and/or Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) to help deliver the objectives of the community service.  The focus here is on service delivery to disadvantaged communities and target groups.  Employees are recruited from the labour market subject to the service provider meeting certain programme requirements.  As such, the CSP enables the creation of paid employment positions and is not a welfare payment, or an add-on to a welfare payment. This approach sets the programme apart from other public funding sources and reflects the social enterprise ethos of the programme.  

How is the CSP funding contribution structured?

The funding provided to service providers is expressed as a fixed annual co-funding contribution towards the costs of employing a manager and/or a specified number of full time equivalent positions (FTEs). 
The co-funding contribution towards employing each Full-Time Equivalent position (“FTEs”) is €19,033 per annum.
Where the CSP contributes to the cost of employing a manager, this amounts to €32,000 co-funding per annum.

What services and activities are eligible under CSP?

The CSP supports service providers who, through a social enterprise model:  
• operate community halls and facilities
• provide services to local, regional and national geographical communities or communities of interest, especially to disadvantaged communities
• operate social enterprises that provide employment for specific disadvantaged groups, such as Travellers and People with Disabilities.

What are the main characteristics of organisations funded under CSP?

The vast majority of CSP service providers contain the following key characteristics that distinguish them from other organisations in the community: 
• The organisation and business is started by a group of individuals within a community setting;
• It adopts a social enterprise approach to addressing social issues and creating positive social change and social inclusion; 
• Any surpluses are re-invested for the purpose of that business or in the community rather  than being driven to provide profit for owners or shareholders;
• It is an independent organisation accountable to a defined set of members and the wider community;
• It is democratic in its membership and decision making; the governance structures generally represent their key stakeholders (community representatives, members of target groups, general community interests and specialist areas of knowledge/skills)
• It is participatory in nature, involving those who will be impacted by the activity or services or goods being provided;
• It strives to create sustainable jobs for disadvantaged target groups such as Travellers, long-term unemployed or people with disabilities
• It holds its assets and wealth for the benefit of community, usually in the form of reserves;
• It encourage workers to learn and update their skills
• It encourages a high level of co-operation with other social enterprises, statutory bodies and other regional/national organisations.

Exceptions to the above include a small number of Local Development Companies and Statutory Agencies who have contracts under the programme, but who must adopt a social enterprise model for the CSP supported service.

Is the CSP open to new entrants?

There is currently no open call for applications under the CSP.  However, if you are a social enterprise and you wish to discuss the possibility of accessing supporting under CSP in the future you may submit a brief summary of your proposal to the Department of Social Protection at

How long is a typical grant agreement (contract) for under CSP?

A typical grant agreement or contract under the CSP is for a period of 3 years. However, this can vary for different reasons and sometimes service providers may receive a 1-year or 2-year contract. The grant agreement specifies the purpose of the grant, the service description, and grant amount and delivery period.  It also specifies general conditions, and contract specific conditions that are applicable.

Are service providers supported under CSP eligible to re-apply for funding at the end of their contractual period?

A call to prepare a new Business Plan is usually issued in the final year of a 3-year grant agreement. Once your Business Plan is appraised by Pobal, recommendations are forwarded to DSP for final decision. A service provider will then either continue in the programme with the same funding allocation, with a reduced allocation, or with an increased allocation. A small number of service providers exit the CSP annually either voluntarily or as a result of the re-contracting process, or for other reasons.
How is ‘social enterprise’ defined under CSP?

For the purposes of the CSP, social enterprises can be defined as “an enterprise that trades for social/societal purpose, where at least part of its income is earned from its trading activity, is separate from government and where the surplus is primarily re-invested in the social objective” (Forfas: Social Enterprise in Ireland, Sectoral Opportunities and Policy Issues. (July 2013)

There are many different types of social enterprises that generate a traded income through:

• Delivery of specific services  with a social dividend (e.g. meals on wheels, care for older people , home improvements,  transport,  environmental services, visitation services, childcare provision, community media)
• Local economic development (e.g.  tourism  facilities or products, sports facilities, heritage and arts facilities)
• Creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups (e.g. focus on training and integration of unemployed, people with disabilities,  Travellers, ex-prisoners and other target groups
• Deficient Demand Social Enterprises: where the demand for particular goods and services within a community is not matched by the resources to pay for these, due to disadvantage or low density of population.
• And sometimes a mix of two or more of the  above

What is expected of CSP service providers in relation to traded income?

CSP service providers are required to generate traded income from a variety of sources including sales, fees (often with a sliding scale or pricing policy according to need and ability to pay), contracts, room rental and/or the organisation of events

In order to assist sustainability, all CSP service providers should strive for a situation where at least 30% of annual turnover is from traded income, and where the CSP grant is not more than 50% of your annual turnover.  While this may not be achievable in the short-term for some service providers, it is something to focus on in the medium to long term and business plans should be orientated towards the achievement of these benchmarks in terms of sustainability. Service providers who have a CSP funded manager in place should build towards the achievement of these targets by trying to ensure in the first instance that at least the equivalent of a CSP manager contribution (€32,000) comes from traded income.

Is sub-contracting allowed under CSP?

Sub-contracting in the context of CSP is where service delivery is carried out by an organisation other than the contract holder. As a general rule, sub-contracting is not allowed. However, from 1st January 2016, sub-contracting may occur on an exceptional basis where it is agreed with Pobal in advance to be the most effective way to maximise the resources available.  Any proposal to sub-contract service delivery should first be discussed with your Pobal Development Co-ordinator. See Section 2.5 of the CSP Operating Manual for further details.

Our service would like to apply for additional Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions.   Is this possible and if so, how do we go about it?

Requests for additional FTEs can be considered but a new Business Plan must be prepared setting out the business case for the total resources required.  Any service seeking additional resources should first discuss the proposal with their Pobal Development Co-ordinator who will advise of the next opportunity for a Business Plan to be submitted. Please note that any additional FTEs awarded as a result of a new business plan must be utilised on a full-time basis for a minimum of 30 hours across a four day period each week.

Our service experienced a reduction in our FTE allocation last year.  We appealed the decision but the outcome of the appeal remained the same.  What can we do now?

Once the appeal process is complete there is no further recourse to Pobal in the short term to have the decision revisited as the outcome of the appeal process is final. Our advice to services is to continue focusing on service delivery using a social enterprise model and utilise your existing FTE allocations to maximum benefit.  Future re-contracting processes will provide an opportunity to seek additional resources if you believe you have a strong case.  It is important that your service understands the reasons behind the reduction in allocation and take steps to rectify the situation in line with the objectives and ethos of the programme. For further clarification please contact your designated Development Co-ordinator.

We are a Co-operative that pays a dividend to our members. Does the rule under Section 2.1 of the Operating Manual apply to us?

Yes. While the rule makes specific reference to companies with share capital and statutory bodies, all CSP service providers including company limited by guarantee (CLG) and industrial and provident society (co-operatives) must ensure that they comply with the stipulations set out under 2.1.  However, companies with share capital and statutory bodies are specifically requested to ensure that their Memorandum and Articles of Association, or Constitution include the following clauses/ provisions set out in Section 2.1, or similar provisions with the same effect, with effect from 1st January 2016.  CLGs or Co-operatives who currently do not comply with the provisions below should also do likewise.

What is the legal basis on which Pobal collect personal data in the Returns and explain what is being used for?

The collection of the data is requested and authorised by The Department of Social Protection which operates under the various Social Welfare Acts (2005-2010).  Access to this data is restricted to a small number of Pobal personnel. Once entered into the system, which is designed to bring CSP in line with other Department of Social Protection programmes, the data becomes anonymised for analysis and reporting purposes.   It cannot be inputted in the anonymised format as the merged data provides the information required by the Department to assess the profile of those being targeted and benefitting from the programme.

Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003, certain types of data controllers and data processors are required to register if they hold personal data in an automated form (e.g. on computer).   Pobal is registered with the Data Commissioner as a Data Controller.  The registration number for Pobal is 4860/A

Further legal authority is supplied by Section 2B – of the Data Protection Act.  which states that a data controller is legally entitled to collect the sensitive information (without the consent of the data subject) if he or she is:  (inter alia)

• Exercising or performing any right or obligation that is conferred or imposed by law on the data controller in connection with employment
• Carrying out the processing for a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation in respect of its member or other persons in regular contact with the organisation
• Administering a social welfare scheme

I am thinking of applying for a job that is funded by CSP. What are the employment eligibility criteria?

Please read the Guide for Applicants for CSP Jobs

Do Pobal specify the terms and conditions of employment of CSP staff?

No. It is a matter for your board as the employer of staff to set out the terms and conditions of employment and to provide CSP funded staff with employment contracts. Pobal has a contract for service delivery with the company and the company should have employment contracts with staff.

How many hours each week are Managers and FTEs required to work?

It is a matter for each employer to specify in an employment contract the number of hours to be worked by their staff. However, in order to draw down the full CSP co-funding contribution, both Managers and FTEs are required to work a minimum of 39 hours per week.  This is exclusive of lunch breaks, but inclusive of short tea/coffee breaks.  From 1st July 2016, where Managers  are contracted for less than the required minimum hours, and where this is deemed acceptable to Pobal, the CSP co-funding contribution will be  reduced on a pro rata basis.

Please note that People with Disabilities (PWD) are exempt from any requirement to work 39 hours per week under the CSP, and hours can be agreed as deemed appropriate.

Does Pobal prescribe the rate of payment to CSP funded staff?

Neither the Department of Social Protection and by extension Pobal set the wage rate; this is entirely a matter for the employer.The CSP contribution is provided on a co-funding basis and employers are expected to provide additional funds from their own resources to meet the full cost of employment. Employers are expected to pay a reasonable and adequate rate of pay to staff in line with local market rates.  For FTE positions, employers should strive towards achieving the payment of a ‘living wage’ which is viewed as a rate €11.50 per hour (or circa €450 per week) where feasible. Service providers are obliged under employment law to pay the minimum wage.  

Can the 70% rule on employing CSP funded FTEs from certain specified categories be relaxed so that there is more open competition during recruitment? 

The 70% rule for FTEs must be applied by all Services and evidenced for the purposes of audit and verification. See Section 2.4 of the CSP operating Manual for further guidance. The DSP may decide at a future date to review the rule but the current 70% rule remains in force.

Can newly qualified students that are unemployed but not obtaining social welfare payments count towards compliance with the 70% rule?

No.  Individuals in these circumstances cannot count towards the 70% rule unless they are in receipt of an eligible DSP payment. See Section 2.4 (page 19) of the Operating Manual for further guidance.

Our service has a scenario where an opportunity arose for a full-time employee (39 hrs per week) to work additional shifts to cover another person who is on unpaid leave.   Can we claim the CSP contribution for the person already doing 39 hours instead of the other employee on unpaid leave?

It is not possible to claim for more than 39 hours per week for an FTE.

Do Timesheets have to be kept for all CSP funded staff, including the Manager?

Yes, timesheets are required for all CSP funded staff.  Timesheets for FTEs has always been a requirement of the CSP. However, with the introduction of the new CSP Operating Manual on 4th April 2016, timesheets for CSP funded Managers are a requirement from this date onwards.

We have been using the Pobal timesheet template for the last number of years However, I can't seem to find anywhere for the employees to sign on a weekly basis on the template. Is there is a place for them to sign?

The timesheet provided by Pobal at the time is a sample timesheet.  As one size does not fit all, and service providers can use the prototype to create their own timesheets to match their particular business with reference to the guidance note provided on our website. 

How do I capture Bank Holidays on Timesheets?

If an employee works a public/bank holiday, the timesheet is just completed as per any other day as the CSP contribution does not treat public holidays any differently.

If the employee does not work on a public/bank holiday, then you can enter one of the following:

• Add a row to your timesheet for ‘Public/Bank Holidays’
• Include 0.00 for the staff member on the bank holiday in question and note in the Comments section on the summary page that xx/xx/xx date was a bank holiday so the service was closed.

Is there any financial or other support offered from the CSP, financial or otherwise, in relation to redundancy?

Any proposal to make a CSP funded positon redundant must be discussed with your Pobal Development Co-ordinator in advance of the decision being taken.  See Section 3.6 of the CSP operating Manual which covers the subject of redundancy.  The CSP does not make a financial contribution to redundancy payments. 

Details of the DSP Social Insurance Fund can be accessed through the following link.

We currently have a member of staff who will need to take extended time off due to sick leave. Is it possible to recruit replacement cover for this period and what steps do we need to follow?

Yes, it is possible to recruit a replacement in line with your company recruitment policy and procedures. . Section 3.2.3 (page 31) of the CSP Operating Manual covers “Accounting for State Benefits i.e. Sick Leave and Maternity Leave”.  Please also refer to Section 3.1.2 Eligible Expenditure (page 25) of the manual which is also relevant.

I have a member of staff who is going on maternity leave shortly; does this mean that I have to go through the whole interview process to get someone to cover the maternity leave?

Recruitment and selection is the responsibility of the employer and should be in line with your own company policies and procedures. Open and transparent recruitment procedures are expected in relation to public funding and are subject to future audit and verification visits. Any decisions taken by the board outside of normal company procedures, and the rationale for the decision(s), should be minuted.   

A staff member that currently works 25 hours per week has requested to change to a term time contract. This would mean that her hours on a weekly basis would remain the same but her working year would equate to 44 weeks.   A second employee that is currently on maternity leave has asked if it would be possible for her to return to working on a reduced hours basis.  Is it possible to amalgamate the hours that wound no longer being worked by our current employees and try to establish an additional CSP funded post within the company?

Any proposal to create an additional post from within your current FTE allocation would need to be submitted in writing to your Development Co-ordinator. In theory it is possible for a new post to be created, but a proposal would need to clearly set out the role envisaged and how it contributes to your current Business Plan objectives and activities.

As the additional worker is still within your existing FTE allocation it is not considered a "new post" i.e. not an additional FTE allocation therefore not subject to a minimum of 30 hours per week. However, in order to avoid any potential for dual payments from DSP, all 3 employees must work a minimum of 4 days a week. 

We have a staff member who is working part time (19.5 hours) over three days. This person was in receipt of additional DSP support for many years but this has now ceased. The Social Welfare office now say in this instance there is an entitlement to a payment for the remaining days. However, the CSP Operating Manual states that “service providers are encouraged to consolidate working hours as much as possible and……ideally, service providers should strive for a minimum of 19.5 hours per week for all CSP supported positions spread over a minimum four day period”  The use of 'encouraged' and 'should strive for' are not prescriptive so therefore I'm unclear as to what to do.  Should I (a) sign weekly forms that say this person has no work on those days, or, (b) not sign them as they will lead to a dual payment.

There is no difficulty with the Service signing the forms to say that the person only works 3 days per week as this reflects the current situation.  It is not a requirement for CSP funded employees who currently work less than the 19.5hrs/4 days per week that they must increase their hours/working days to that level.  However, if there is an opportunity for the service to consolidate hours/increase working days (e.g. due to a CSP funded staff member leaving or proposal to use hours differently), then the service should make every effort to ensure that all positons are for a min of 19.5 hrs over 4 days.

A full-time CSP funded staff member is out sick and it looks like the recovery will be at least 6 months. Can you clarify if there are any limitations or conditions within the CSP contract which I need to be aware of regarding same in terms of payment, leave allowance etc.?

Under CSP rules, a claim under the programme can only be made for the first 6 days. After this the employee must claim sick benefit from DSP.  If a service decides to pay an individual their full salary while they are on Sick Leave this benefit must be made payable to the group who will offset it against the wages.  The balance of CSP monies relating to this FTE can then be used to employ an individual to cover while this person is on sick leave. Please note that the service must ensure that the person covering for the sick person has a letter of appointment and contract referring specifically to their role under the Community Services Programme – whether they have been appointed internally or recruited from outside.

Q. One of our CSP employees is contracted for 16 hours per week but has gained full time employment elsewhere and we now need to replace her. However, I am concerned that I am now required to ensure that all posts are for a minimum of 30 hours per week across 4 working days. What should I do?

A. DSP is encouraging all CSP funded services to consolidate working hours where possible in order to avoid a scenario where they are contributing to the cost of employment for an individual, and also making a jobseekers payment.  In that context, you should first consider whether it is possible to increase the hours of other part-time staff so that the role is filled in this manner.
If this is not feasible, it is possible to advertise for a positon for 16 hours per week but the position should ideally be delivered across a minimum of 4 working days per week in order to avoid the above scenario.  The rule regarding working a minimum of 30 hours per week across a minimum of 4 working days is compulsory for brand new FTE positions i.e. for additional allocations to existing CSP services and new organisations entering the programme.

Q. One of the roles supported by CSP is a part-time cleaner positon (19.5 hrs per week). We would like to fund the cleaner positon from our own funds, and use the 19.5 hrs to support another role that is more clearly linked to generating traded income. Is this acceptable?

A. It would be preferable to give the allocation of hours to other p-t workers but where this is not possible, the proposal would be acceptable in principle.  However, a new job description for the CSP funded role is required to be submitted to your Development Co-ordinator for consideration, and final approval would be based on the appropriateness of the role proposed and the job description.  The 19.5 hrs should ideally be spread across a minimum of 4 working days to avoid a scenario where DSP are contributing to the cost of employment for an individual, and also making a jobseekers payment

Q. Do all CSP funded roles now have to be spread across 4 working days?

A. No. It is important to draw a distinction between existing CSP FTE positions held by part-time and full time staff, and additional FTE allocations that lead to the creation of new positions. With the latter, there is a requirement that any additional FTE allocations to existing services, and allocations to new entrants to CSP, must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week across a minimum of 4 working days.  This is to avoid a scenario where DSP are contributing to the cost of employment for an individual, and also making a jobseekers payment.
It is not a requirement for existing CSP positions to be spread across 4 working days, but if an opportunity arises to increase part-time working hours and days worked, this should be actively considered as a first option and implemented where feasible.  

Q. One of our full time workers has damaged his knee and will be out sick for a month. It is not possible to get another FTE to cover his work as the skillset is quite specific.  Can we employ someone to cover his position for the month?

A. Yes, as long as the person is recruited in line with your organisation’s recruitment and selection policy.   If the proposed employment goes beyond the agreed period you should notify your Development Co-ordinator.  See also the FAQ on sick leave entitlements as this may impact on your approach to replacing the employee on sick leave.

Q. We have participants on Tús, Community Employment and the Rural Social Schemes.  Is there a requirement under CSP to maintain time-sheets for the personnel employed on these schemes, or does the requirement for timesheets only apply to CSP funded positions?

A. Is it not a specific requirement under CSP that you maintain timesheets for staff funded under RSS, Tús or CE. This is a matter for management of each service to decide.    It is good practice to maintain timesheets for all staff, but with regard to the named schemes it is not a CSP requirement.  It is recommended to check if the other programme/scheme in question have a specific requirement in relation to timesheet records.

Q. One of our CSP funded staff is nearing the age of 66. Is there any circumstance where the individual can remain in a CSP funded positon once they reach the age of 66?

A. No, once the person reaches the age of 66 the CSP contribution towards the employment of that person ceases.  This is the case regardless of whether they are in receipt of an Irish state pension or otherwise.  You may continue to employ the individual beyond 66 if you so wish, but the CSP contribution cannot be used for that purpose.