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Matthews welcomes funding for rural remote working hubs

Date: 17 May 2021

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has welcomed the €5 million funding announcement by Minister Heather Humphreys that will provide support for the country’s existing national network of remote working hubs. Capital Grants provided will range from €10,000 to €250,000 depending on the nature of the work required and offers flexibility in terms of what initiatives the funding can be used for. Discussing the announcement, Deputy Matthews said:

“Remote hubs are an issue that I have raised with various Ministers since I was first elected to the Dáil both publicly and privately. It was a key commitment that the Green Party pushed for in the Programme for Government and I have consistently called for plans and initiatives to support their development in recent months. I have been engaging with volunteer groups and businesses in rural Wicklow that have established remote working hubs but needed government support to make them fully operational. These are the exact type of hubs that this funding seeks to support.

“This round of funding is particularly targeted at already established hubs and can be used to expand existing hub facilities, providing additional hot desks, office spaces and meeting rooms for remote working. The funding will also be used to install electric car charging points, upgrade disability access, and improve IT facilities located within hubs or Broadband Connection Points (BCPs). It will also assist in making existing hubs more compliant with social distancing guidelines.

“For years we have discussed the downfall of rural Irish towns and villages, but this needn’t be the case. Remote hubs offer people the chance to work close to home, to bring life back into rural towns, create greater demand for cafes, shops, and other amenities. This would also be hugely positive not only in terms of reducing the number of cars on the road but also for the overall wellbeing of people who even when we return to ‘normal’ wouldn’t have to spend 20 hours a week in the car.

“One of lessons that I hope employers and employees alike will take away from the pandemic is that the 9-5, office-based day isn’t the only way of operating. The pandemic forced a change in work practice that otherwise could have taken a decade, but it needs to be embraced. I would imagine the number of people jumping up and down to return to a Monday-Friday commute, sitting in traffic for hours on end isn’t a huge list. From speaking with Minister Humphreys, her Department is determined to make remote working a genuine option for people and I’m hugely supportive of this initiative.

"This is just the first of several funding announcements expected regarding support mechanisms for remote working. I will continue to work with my Government colleagues to support initiatives to create new community and working hubs but it’s equally important that we invest in our many existing hubs, public and private, and ensure they are attractive, fully equipped, modern office spaces for people to work from into the future. I would ask that anyone involved in a remote working hub in Wicklow to get in touch regarding this round of funding and I will offer any support I can regarding their application", concluded Deputy Matthews.



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