Sean Defoe
Sean Defoe

06.16 29 Mar 2021


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Tax breaks for working from home are set to be examined under a new plan from the Government to incentivise people to move to rural Ireland.

The 'Our Rural Future' plan also commits to a fund to re-purpose vacant buildings in rural towns to turn them into shared office spaces with access to high-speed broadband.

The Government is understood to be examining further financial incentives such as relocation grants to get people out of cities.

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These have been run by some cities in America which offer money to people to move there.

They sometimes target remote workers in specific sectors like the tech industry.

Government sources say such an approach could be the next step for luring people out of cities and back to rural Ireland, but a plan has yet to be agreed with the Department of Finance.

Pilot schemes are set to be launched to provide state-backed taxis or hackneys in rural communities that can't support public transport networks on their own.

A separate scheme will aim to turn some rural pubs into community areas providing other services in a bid to keep them open.

The plan also commits to exploring what further Government services could be provided at post offices.

Tax arrangements for remote working for employees and employers will be reviewed under this plan, which will be launched by Minister Heather Humphreys this afternoon.

Government departments are set to take a lead role, with the State revisiting the idea of decentralisation.

Priority will be given to areas outside Dublin for the location of new headquarters or buildings for Government departments and other State bodies.

The plan also commits to ensuring 20% of civil servants will continue to work from home post-COVID, with that number set to rise again in future years.

More than 400 remote working facilities will be set up across the country with access to shared office space and high-speed broadband. Employees will be able to book time to work in these through an online booking system or app.

While Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys says this plan is not about urban vs rural, she also said we can't go back to the "old normal".

Sources in the Department say this is a once in a lifetime chance to change how people work and to incentivise people to swap long commutes for a quieter life in rural Ireland.

Research has previously shown a significant majority of people working remotely during the pandemic want to continue doing so in some capacity in the future.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Joe Giddens/PA Archive/PA Images

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