Remote working hubs could be “transformative” for rural areas

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The rollout of Remote Working Hubs represents a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to enable remote working in rural areas, a Galway TD has said.

The government has included €5 million in Budget 2021 to introduce 350 remote working hubs around the country.

Galway-Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane said that this could be “transformative” for rural towns and villages, but that the plans need to be progressed quickly.

“A recent report from the Regional Assemblies of Ireland published last month identified 1 in 4 private sector workers could be targeted for remote working, with even greater numbers when it comes to public service workers.”

“In the North and West region alone, there are over 40,000 private sector workers identified,” the Sinn Féin TD said.

“That would see 40,000 less commuters and 40,000 more people in their local communities and spending in their local economy.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said that an interdepartmental working group has been established to progress this project.

The full network of 350 hubs will include the establishment of new hubs, as well as the upgrading of existing facilities.

The group has had it first meeting, and is working on gathering data on the hubs in operation and building a “composite map of networks”, work which is expected to be completed in early to mid 2021.

Deputy Kerrane said that the department could make use of existing premises which are vacant, as well as considering community centres, which would also provide them with a source of income.

“We know the difficulties that people in rural areas have faced during Covid when it comes to working from home and also, for children when schools were closed.”

“We need to get this basic infrastructure in place and progress quickly with the roll-out of Remote Working Hubs.”