30th September 2020

 Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, at the Department of Rural and Community Development, has published the comprehensive independent review of the Community Services Programme by Indecon International Economic Consultants.

The Community Services Programme (CSP) transferred to the Department of Rural and Community Development in 2018. A review of the programme was considered opportune given the new Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: A Five-Year Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland 2019-2024 and the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022, and also that no formal review had been carried out since the programme was introduced in 2006.

The review included a public consultation on its scope. Indecon also undertook extensive stakeholder engagement with CSP supported organisations, employees and national community and voluntary organisations.

The report sets out 11 key recommendations that the Department and Pobal, who administer the programme on its behalf, will use to assist with the re-structuring of the programme.

The Minister commented:

“I have reviewed the recommendations outlined in the report and look forward to ensuring that the programme is fit for purpose and continues to deliver vital services throughout the country.  In the meantime, Pobal will engage with all CSP supported organisations with a view to re-contracting organisations until December 2021 while this important work is going on.

The jobs created by the CSP are often for people from marginalised communities such as Travellers, ex-offenders and long term unemployed people and going forward the programme will have a more targeted focus in this regard.”

A High Level Action Plan, prepared by the Department and Pobal accompanies the Indecon Report and sets out the proposed timeline for delivery of each phase. The report and High Level Action Plan are available here.

The Department and Pobal have now commenced work on the restructuring of the Programme. This will involve a reconvening of the Review Advisory Group, which acted as a consultative forum during the report development stage, and will now play a role in the redesign and implementation phases.

Pending the transition to the new restructured programme, the open Expression of Interest process is now closed. It is expected that the Programme will set aside a percentage of its overall funding allocation to facilitate periodic targeted calls.