The Government is willing to offer cash incentives to convince people to move away from Dublin and work in more rural areas. Their plan for the development of rural areas includes plans to transform vacant properties into remote working hubs and to use pubs as community spaces, according to reports.
The Our Rural Future plan which was launched this afternoon features 150 commitments that are set to run from 2021-2025. Plans are being considered for promoting remote working and to increase the number of people living in rural areas.
2022’s Budget could see proposals of “new financial supports” to encourage people to live in less populated rural areas. These proposals include an increase in employees in the public sector working from rural areas, with pilot “co-working and hot-desking hubs” set up in several rural towns.
As well as pledging to move 20% of workers in the public sector to home or remote working, the government will add further annual increases over the five years of the plan. The continued roll-out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) reinforces their proposals, with further exploration to see how the NBP “can be accelerated to deliver connectivity as soon as possible to rural areas”.
Increasing remote working includes plans for developing a network of 400 remote working facilities throughout the country. The facilities hope to support the retention of skilled people in rural areas as well as attracting “mobile talent”. Funding will be provided to local authorities to market their areas to remote workers.
“Special incentives” are being examined to whether they would encourage remote workers to relocate to rural towns. “Significant” investment is being planned to give people the option to live and work in rural communities “regardless of where their employer is headquartered”.
The government will review tax arrangements for remote working, for both employees and employers. Changes to planning rules would also be passed in order to extend regulations and allow certain vacant, commercially owned premises to change their use for residential purposes.
The plan is also set to create a pilot scheme, supporting the use of rural pubs as hubs for community and local services. It will work with An Post to identify procedures to distribute additional services through the post office network. The Expand the Town and Village Renewal Scheme will hope to bring vacant and derelict spaces back into use as housing locations and multi-purpose spaces.
The plan was launched today by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste and Business Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys. At today’s announcement, Humphreys said Ireland needed to move on from the “tired narrative of rural versus urban”.
“If people are to make the move back to rural Ireland, we want to ensure that they are returning to vibrant towns and villages, through a new town centre first approach, we will target investment to ensure rural towns and villages are vibrant and lived in places.
“The National Broadband Plan is a largest ever investment in rural Ireland, akin to electrification, it will open up a new world of possibilities,” added Humphreys.
Click here to find out more on the Government’s Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, Our Rural Future plan.