The Community Services Programme supports community businesses to provide local services and create employment opportunities for disadvantaged people. It provides funding support to community companies and co-operatives. It focuses on communities where public and private sector services are lacking, either through geographical or social isolation or because demand levels are not sufficient. The Programme also enables the benefit of other public investment to be realised (as in the case of investment in community centres and resources).
The Community Services Programme evolved from the Social Economy Programme and is managed for the Department of Rural and Community Development by Pobal, a not-for-profit company that manages programmes on behalf of the Irish Government and the EU.
Types of project
In general, applicants must be not-for-profit social enterprises or community businesses with sufficient capacity to undertake service delivery and the management of staff. They must also have sufficient financial resources and opportunity to generate revenue to maintain the proposed service, and where necessary, prepare a business plan acceptable to the Programme.
There are 3 main types of project funded under the Programme:
- Community services for disadvantaged people, for example: home insulation; disability transport; meals-on-wheels and centre-based day care and social activities; personal security and visitation services; community radio and other forms of community media
- Community enterprises employing people with disabilities, Travellers, recovering drug misusers and/or ex-prisoners. The employing company or co-op must operate as a social enterprise and demonstrate some form of progression of the workers
- Community halls and facilities available for community use which enable the day-to-day operation of community infrastructure
In order to qualify for funding under the Community Services Programme, organisations must operate on a not-for-profit basis. They must also recruit unemployed people to work in the projects. In general, 70% of employees in projects funded under the Programme must be from one of the following groups:
- Unemployed people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment
- People in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension or Blind Person’s Pension or other disability payment
- Travellers in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or One-Parent Family Payment
- Stabilised and recovering drug misusers
- People employed from Tús, Community Employment (CE), Job Initiative schemes, as well as Rural Social Scheme workers who are former CE participants
Detailed information about the Community Services Programme is available on the Pobal website.