Community Services Programme

Review of the Community Services Programme (CSP)


The CSP currently supports community-based organisations to provide local social, economic and environmental services through a social enterprise model, providing a contribution towards the cost of staff in CSP organisations.  It typically supports organisations to meet local service gaps and provide access to services and facilities that would otherwise generally be unavailable.  Eligible are supported under three strands –

  • Strand 1 – Community Halls and Facilities
  • Strand 2 – Community Services for Disadvantaged Communities
  • Strand 3 – Community Organisations Employing People Distant from the Labour Market.

Funding is provided to community organisations as a fixed contribution towards the cost of employing a manager and/or an agreed number of full-time equivalent positions (FTEs).  The CSP provides €19,033 per FTE and €32,000 per manager.  The contribution is based on a 39 hour working week.  More than €46m is allocated to the programme in 2018, supporting approx. 1,650 FTEs and 300 manager positions.

The Department of Rural and Community Development has, since January 2018, policy responsibility for the programme.  The Department manages the ‘expressions of interest’ process, agrees all new entrants and exits, and approves new contracts arising from re-contracting processes and funding arrangements and changes to these.

Pobal manages all day-to-day programme administration, including application processes, re-contracting arrangements, financial management, audit and control checks, beneficiary support, etc.

Programme Review

While the Department’s primary focus for the first ten months of 2018 has been to ensure continuity of service, a review of the programme is opportune given –

  • emerging policies for local development and community development, and for social enterprise,
  • its recent transfer to a new Department and different policy focus,
  • the increasing impact of developments in the external environment on the relevance and viability of the programme as meaningful support for supported organisations and, in particular, smaller community services and facilities, and
  • no formal review has been carried out since the programme was introduced in 2006.

A formal review will ensure the programme is more closely aligned with current Department and Government policy and better placed to meet community needs.


There will be comprehensive consultation at all stages of the review with CSP supported organisations and national representative organisations in the community development, local development, social enterprise and community and voluntary sectors.

Review Process

In the context of the Department of Rural and Community Development’s mission, vision and strategic objectives as set out in its Statement of Strategy 2017-2020, and having regard to the potential implications of the forthcoming implementation plan for local development and community development, and the forthcoming social enterprise policy (both policy documents nearing finalisation within the Department), other relevant policies including the Action Plan for Rural Development and having regard to existing budgets, the review will –

Examine –

  1. The nature, range and scale of CSP funded organisations;
  2. The range of eligible services and target participants;
  3. The services being delivered to vulnerable communities that would not be delivered otherwise;
  4. The job opportunities and career advancement for people from marginalised communities;
  5. The role and structure of the CSP funding contribution;
  6. The overlap or complementarity with other Government-funded programmes and schemes;
  7. The programme evaluation criteria;
  8. The application, re-contracting and appeals processes;
  9. The governance and programme management arrangements, and
  10. Good practice internationally in the provision, funding and governance of similar community services programmes.

And consider –

  1. Whether the programme as currently structured is appropriate and delivering on the strategic goals of the Department;
  2. Whether the programme is providing value for money;
  3. Whether the programme is meeting the needs of individual participants, CSP supported organisations and end-users of the community services provided;
  4. Whether, in the management of the programme, the appropriate balance is being struck between compliance, monitoring and oversight on one hand and supporting, developing and engaging with supported organisations and services on the other;
  5. Whether the current grant limits and funding models are sustainable, having regard to the ongoing viability of funded organisations.

The review will be carried out by an independent body on behalf of the Department.

Oversight Arrangements

A steering group will be established to oversee the review and to provide strategic oversight and direction.  The steering group will comprise –

  • Independent Chair,
  • One representative from the Department of Rural and Community Development,
  • One representative from Pobal,
  • an external advisor [academic or other independent expertise],
  • social enterprise representative, and
  • community representatives.

Timeframe for Implementation

The review will be carried out over a six month period from February 2019.

Submissions on the Scope of the Review

This consultation is the first phase of engagement on the review of the CSP.  The purpose is to receive input on the draft scope of the review and ensure that as broad a range of issues are considered and to allow an opportunity for interested stakeholders to provide early feedback, while all options are still open for consideration.

All submissions will be considered and if deemed appropriate the scope will be amended to reflect any relevant feedback.

Submissions (max 1,000 words) are now invited and should be sent by email to or in writing to:

CSP Review
Libraries Development and Community Policy Section
Department of Rural and Community Development
Government Buildings
Co. Mayo
F26 E8N6

The deadline for receipt of submissions on this initial consultation is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 14 November 2018.

Responses to this consultation are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 (FOI). Confidential or commercially sensitive information should be clearly identified in your submission, however parties should also note that any or all responses to the consultation are subject in their entirety to the provisions of the FOI Acts.

Contact Details

If you have any queries on the review please contact the Libraries Development and Community Policy Section on 076-1006934 or 076-1006982 or by email to or by post to the above address.

For Information relating to CSP cick here.