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My Dáil contribution in response to Dáil Question on Sports Capital Programme

Dáil Question No. 722

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor. For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 27th November, 2012.

Ref No: 52513/12

Reply: Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar

 

I propose to take questions  99,102,130,132,141,152,154,163,164,722 and 725 together

These questions relate to this years sports capital programme, any future such programmes as well to whether there should be changes to the taxation regime to support sporting organisations and clubs.

As mentioned previously, the Sports Capital Programme is an area delegated to Minister Ring.  As Deputies will know, my Department has received 2,170 applications for funding under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme seeking €229m in funding for projects with a total value of €374m.  This is the largest number applications ever received under the Programme.

I have approval from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to allocate €30m which I believe shows the value this Government places on sport.  €26m of this amount has been earmarked for local projects, including community sports clubs and organisations.

Departmental officials are processing all applications and this process is almost complete.  I expect to be able to announce the list of successful applicants later this year.

The Government has also committed to a further Programme during the liftime of this Government. When the current programme is finished, I will with Minister Ring examine the successes and failures of the current round of applications. As the 2012 process is unfolding, one aspect of particular concern to both me and Minister Ring is the high number of ineligible applications. In some counties assessed to date, the majority of applications have been ineligible and in designing the next scheme this will need to be taken account of.

I was pleased to see that the Irish Sports Council’s Sport Monitor Report for 2011 shows that active participation in sport increased from 34% in 2009 to 46% in 2011 among adults.  The 2012 Sports Capital grants will improve facilities in every county and provide increased opportunities for more people to engage in sport to the best of their ability.

With regard to wider supports for sporting organisations, as the Deputies may be aware the Revenue Commissioners’ have a scheme that provides tax relief for donations to certain sports bodies. It is important that sporting organisations can secure alternative sources of investment, including private donations. In my view the current tax relief scheme for donations to sporting organisations is restrictive in that it applies only to donations for capital purposes.

Taxation issues, including the amendment or introduction of tax relief schemes are a matter for the Minister for Finance.  However, I recently wrote to the Minister for Finance in October outlining possible amendments to existing tax relief schemes which would allow relief for non-capital donations to sporting organisations.

 

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I welcome the sports capital programme. I have been involved in a number of clubs in my own local area which have benefited from capital grants over the years. I wish to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that some of the clubs that submitted applications might not be able to raise the required 15% of funding themselves but might be in a position to provide labour to that value in lieu of finance. I ask the Minister to consider that as part of the programme.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: The scheme currently requires that clubs provide 15% of their own funding and that they produce evidence that they have that funding in place. The percentage required for RAPID and CLÁR areas is lower; I cannot remember the exact figure, but I believe it is 5%. The scheme does not allow labour or payment-in-kind to be counted as a contribution, although that is certainly something we could take into account in future programmes. However, it is not possible to modify the scheme after it has already been advertised because there are clubs which might have applied had the rules been different. We cannot change the rules after they have been advertised and must stick to the criteria laid down.

ENDS