Phil Hogan, TD, Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government launched the Clann Credo report From the Ground Up - How Social Finance can help Communities Regenerate & Create Jobs on Friday, July 15th, in historic Kilkenny Castle.
The report makes a number of recommendations to government on developing the social economy to support recovery, its potential to create jobs, the lessons we can learn from Scotland and the role of LEADER.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister said that the report’s recommendations would assist development of social enterprise which the government was committed to in its Programme for Government.
The proposals on Community Benefit Clauses (CBCs), Public Social Partnerships and Social Impact Bonds as well as the ideas put forward to assist the development of a social enterprise strategy were very welcome. The government will look closely at initiatives already being taken in Scotland and other jurisdictions as well as learning lessons from our own experiences, the Minister said.
“I want to thank Clann Credo for bringing these ideas to the attention of government in recent times and for its level of engagement. We will work together to see how we can maximise impact and marry the objectives of Clann Credo with those set out in the Programme for Government”, he concluded.
The Report notes that the latest figures from the Central Bank confirmed that the fall in bank lending to business picked up pace as the year progressed, falling by 2.6% in the year to May. This was in addition to a drop of 2.3% the previous month. It went on to say: “Most worrying is the fact that short and medium term business loans have been hardest hit. Business loans with durations of between one and five years - typically start up businesses and young ventures - have shown the biggest drop.”
This is in stark contrast to the situation in the social economy, where the groups and communities that depend on social finance providers have experienced no shortage of credit.
Paul O’Sullivan told the 60 people in attendance that “Clann Credo approved over €10m in new lending in 2009 and the same amount again in 2010. We expect to double that to €20 million annually, within five years.”
He emphasised that “Clann Credo wants to ensure that all non-profit groups with repayment capacity enjoy access to finance on good terms and that no community is deprived of jobs or services just because they cannot get credit.”
Declan Rice, CEO of Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) outlined how KLP covers two main sectors, Rural Development & Social Inclusion.
KLP is delivering these programmes to service the local development needs of County Kilkenny and to assist in building the capacity of County’s communities to plan for their future.
KLP has €11.5 million to spend on the RDP (LEADER) before the end of 2013. It has ambitious plans in the areas of Rural Tourism, Local food and beverages, Renewable Energies, and Rural community services and amenities.
He said “Of the €11.5 million, approximately €3 million has been committed to date. We will allocate all our budget before 2014.”
Declan said Social Finance complements these programmes very well and KLP would like to develop close working relations with Clann Credo to help ensure that the programmes aims are met.
KLP has developed an ‘Employability Strategy’ to ‘stitch’ integration between the rural development and social inclusion sides of its vision. Increasing ‘Employability’ is the key aim of its work.
“Most of our projects and initiatives will focus on either directly - or indirectly – creating jobs and making people more employable”, he added.
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