Dáil Éireann - Volume 456 - 27 September, 1995

Written Answers. - Recreational Facilities Scheme.

152. Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education the reason her Department has decided that the estimates for the recreational facilities scheme for 1995 are to be spent on projects originating in 1994 and that no new projects are being approved during 1995; the reason the scheme was retained with the 1994 Estimates; whether the 1994 Estimates pertain to files originating in 1993; if so, the reason it was possible to approve grants in 1994 if it is not possible to approve grants in 1995; whether the situation is being dealt with differently in 1995 than it was dealt with in 1994; the reason the scheme is being abandoned for 1995, despite the fact that funding was provided in the 1994 Estimates as in other years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13603/95]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The recreational facilities scheme assists voluntary community organisations in the provision of and improvements to recreational, leisure and community facilities. Grants under this scheme are paid in instalments during construction or in full when projects are completed and when grantee organisations have met the specified conditions.

In 1994 £4 million was provided for this scheme and £0.350 million of this allocation was required to meet payments on projects where grants were allocated in 1993 and in previous years and where claims for payment were expected to arise in 1994. The balance of £3.650 million was available for allocation to new projects.

Over 1,400 applications were received under the scheme in March 1994 in response to the public advertisement which sought applications and which [155] specified the criteria for selection of projects. In view of the large number of applications and the amount of work involved in assessing these applications in accordance with the criteria, it was not possible to make the final selection of projects until August 1994. A total of 568 projects were assisted at an average grant of £6,000 approximately.

As the allocations under the scheme were not made until August 1994 many organisations were not in a position to claim payment in 1994 and consequently, expenditure in 1994 from the £4 million provided amounted to £0.663 million. Therefore, outstanding commitments at January 1995 amounted to £3.3 million in respect of projects approved in 1994.

A feature of this scheme over the years has been that not all organisations claim the grant in the year of allocation and it is not always possible to accurately determine the number of projects which will claim grants in a particular year. Accordingly, £2 million was provided for the scheme in the 1995 Estimates on the basis of the expected pattern of expenditure on these projects.

The present position is that, in addition to the £2 million which will be expended in 1995, £1.3 million is already committed from the total 1996 allocation — which has yet to be decided in the context of the Estimates. It is intended that further new projects will be selected later this year in accordance with the criteria adopted in 1994 and on the basis that expenditure arising on these new projects can be met in 1996 and in subsequent years.