Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, was answering parliamentary questions on November27th. A number of issues relating to sport were raised including the Sports Capital Programme, tax relief in respect of donations to sporting bodies and philanthropy and sport. The Federation has summarised the responses given by Minister Vardakar.
The questions put to Minister Vardkar in relation to sport came from a variety of T.D’s in particular, Sinn Féin T.D.’s and related in the main, to the Sports Capital Prgoramme. However, the issues of charitable status, tax relief on donations to sporting bodies and philanthropy were also raised. Fianna Fáil spokesperson on sport, Timothy Dooley also concentrated on the current round of the Sports Capital Programme and in particular the criteria being used to assess the applications.
Sports Capital Programme
In relation to the Sports Capital Programme, Minister Varadkar confirmed:
- A total of 2,170 applications were received seeking €229 million in grant funding in total in respect of project valued at €347 million.
- Of the €30 million available €26 million will be allocated to local projects, while €4 million will be allocated to regional/national projects. In doing so he made reference to the fact that some National Governing Bodies would rather the emphasis initially would be on national or regional facilities rather than local and that there were strong arguments in favour of this approach. However, for the moment the scheme is set up with the emphasis on local facilities.
- Funding will be allocated on a per capita basis with a weighting to redress any imbalance in previous rounds of the Programme. Minister Varadkar also confirmed that two criteria had been added since the previous scheme in 2008 namely, the sharing of facilities and the receipt of previous government funding with priority being given to those who had not received such assistance previously. In respect of national or regional facilities four additional criteria would also apply being priority as identified by the relevant National Governing Body of Sport, the priority as identified by the Irish Sports Council, the location of the facility in the network of national and regional facilities and in the case of municipal multi-sport facilities only, linkages with the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme.
- He confirmed that there would be bonus points given to applicants who were proposing to share facilities.
- There were a significant number of ineligible applications in the main because of the failure to produce satisfactory evidence of the ability to procure the required 15% co-funding
- The announcement regarding the grants awarded will issue after the budget and successful applicants will have two years in which to draw down the funds.
- Notifications of grant applications will be issued after the budget and in this year; organisations will have two years to draw down fund.
- It was the government’s intention to run a second round of the Programme in 2015 that he and Minister Ring were exploring bringing it forward but no decision had been made as yet.
- In response to a question as to whether the sale of the Lotto would impact on future rounds of the Programme, Minister Varadkar simply stated that the sale was a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure but that he could confirm that it would be sold with the proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital provided planning permission was secured.
The Federation earlier this year made a submission to the Department in respect of the extension of the current tax relief in place on donations to sporting bodies in respect of “capital projects” to “non-capital” projects. This issue together with whether sporting bodies should be allowed gain charitable status was raised. Minister Varadkar responded by saying he felt it was important that sporting organisations secure additional sources of revenue, including private donations. He said that he felt the current relief in place was restrictive in that it applied to donations in respect of capital projects only. However, Minister Varadkar said that the amendment of taxation legislation was one for the Minister for Finance and that he had written to him in October regarding possible amendments that would allow tax relief in respect of non-capital donations to sporting bodies.
Minister Varadkar mentioned that he had made a number approaches to companies and individuals regarding funding for specific projects, at the sports campus or coaching programmes but had little success to date. He stated that it was something he would continue to work on.