Wednesday, 1 March 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
47. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans, if any, he has to carry out research to compile a spatial index of deprivation based on low or social welfare income, lack of community facilities, crime rates and rates of anti-social behaviour, standards of accommodation, education and health, including mortality rates, and security with a view to targeting national development plan funding at areas of high deprivation. [6129/00]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): This Department has for a number of years operated a range of grants schemes and community development support programmes which concentrate on a wide range of support for local self-help groups, community development, welfare rights and information work, and on the provision of seed money to enable community groups to pilot initiatives identified as meeting new and emerging community needs.
The community development support programmes were included in the national development plan with a commitment of over £100 million over the lifetime of the plan. These programmes focus on investment in capacity building, so that socially excluded groups and local communities can be active participants in identifying and meeting their own development  needs, working alongside the other social partners.
Applications from groups seeking inclusion in these programmes are assessed by an independent technical group established to advise me on the selection of new areas and groups for funding. Applications must fulfil the following criteria for inclusion in the programmes. They must have a commitment to an anti-poverty focus; provide support and act as a catalyst for community development activity; act as a resource in the communities of which they are a part; promote co-ordination and co-operation between community, voluntary and statutory groups in the area; involve local people drawn from groups who themselves experience poverty and social exclusion within their management structures; and demonstrate a commitment, in principle and practice, to operate from an equality perspective.
Some 90 projects are currently participating in the community development programme and an additional 40 projects will come on stream over the next 18 months. At present, 61 centres are being funded or have been approved in principle for funding under the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme. It is expected that a further 15 centres will be established by the end of 2000. In addition, funding for a further ten groups under the core funded community and family support groups programme has been provided.
In assessing priorities for the expansion of these support programmes, the technical group first gathered baseline information. In this regard the technical group had a report Targeting Disadvantage under the Community Development Programme which was commissioned at its request by the Combat Poverty Agency. The report rearranged all areas of the State by reference to comparative disadvantage. Further information gathering, at regional level, was undertaken by the regional support agencies. In addition the establishment of new projects in rural areas has been identified as a priority. Under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness there is a commitment that the number of projects will continue to be expanded in rural areas. The current expansion of the programmes is a significant undertaking for my Department and once the new projects are up and running the technical group will be revisiting priority needs for the future expansion of the programmes.
The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness provides that research will be carried out in a number of key areas, including poverty, health, education and training. In relation to the monitoring and evaluation of poverty, further research to determine the extent and causes of poverty will be carried out and systems of measuring poverty among groups not currently included will also be examined, such as, people living in institutions, Travellers and the homeless. The programme also provides for new studies to complement the current living in Ireland and household budget surveys, and to address the gender dimensions of poverty.
In the areas of health, education and training,  the Central Statistics Office, the Equality Authority and relevant Government Departments will develop a system for the collection and dissemination of disaggregated data for women and, in relation to health, education and training for Travellers.
In addition, resources are to be allocated to health research as part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring adequate medium and long-term planning of health provision. Data systems will be adapted to enable disaggregation of health access and outcomes across NAPS target groups.
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