This section explains what the Community Services Programme (CSP) is and how it operates.
The CSP provides financial support to community based not-for-profit companies to employ persons to meet gaps in local service provision.
The Community Services Programme is designed to address locally identified gaps in the provision of community services and to exploit the potential of community assets and resources already in place to improve community well-being. The Programme can play an important role in addressing disadvantage and provides long term employment opportunities for certain groups of people who have been previously unemployed.
The Programme 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 objective of the programme is to promote social and economic development, with the added benefit of providing real and positive employment opportunities for local people within their own community. Projects are required to provide employment opportunities with an emphasis on employing people with disabilities, those that are long-term unemployed, members of the Traveller community, people who are recovering from drug misuse and ex-prisoners. Projects deliver services under three broad categories:
- Management and Supervision of Community Halls and Facilities
- Delivering Community Services, and
- Community Enterprises
Services are very varied in nature and include laundries, media (community radio and publications), house maintenance, childcare, leisure facilities, and homecare for elderly and disabled people, management of community facilities and sports/leisure centres, community childcare, disabled and rural transport, rural tourism, heritage services, recycling and environmental works.
At least 70% of employment in CSP-supported worker posts is recruited from the target groups set out below:
- Unemployed persons in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit, assistance or one parent family payment
- Persons in receipt of disability allowance, invalidity pension or blind persons pension
- Travellers in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit, assistance or one parent family benefit
- Stabilised and recovering drug mis-users
- People employed from CE and JI schemes
- Ex prisoners
The Programme is managed for the Department of Social Protection by Pobal, a not-for-profit company that manages programmes on behalf of the Irish Government and the EU.
Access to the Programme is managed by public calls for proposals made by the Department from time to time. Following assessment, contracts of up to three years duration are typically issued to successful community companies and co-operatives that meet the criteria for the Programme. In general, applicants must be not-for-profit companies, possess sufficient capacity to undertake service delivery and the management of staff, have sufficient financial resources and opportunity to generate revenue to maintain the service proposed, and where necessary, prepare a business plan acceptable to the Programme.
The Programme is not currently open to new applicants.
What funding do projects receive?
Generally, funding is provided under a limited duration renewable contract (usually three years). The funding contributes to the wage costs of employing contracted number of staff and, in some cases, a contribution towards the cost of employing a manager. In a specific number of instances, the Programme may also make a contribution to the non-wage operational costs of service delivery.
At 1st September 2010, some 1,800 staff and 331 manager positions were approved with an estimated 2,700 people working full and part-time to fill these.
At the end of 2009, some 450 community companies and co-operatives had been approved to receive a contribution from the Programme to deliver services.