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The Department launched the community halls pilot scheme on 19 October. The concept of the programme was to invest in community halls to improve the fabric of these valuable community assets. The scheme is open to all community organisations that own or hold a lease to operate a community hall. The maximum award available to a community hall is £25,000. I can inform the House that, so far, the programme has generated a huge appetite. The delivery team has fielded numerous queries and attended a number of information sessions that were organised by various community groups throughout Northern Ireland, such as County Armagh Community Development. The programme closes for applications at noon on 23 November. Late applications will not be accepted. To date, the Department has received 34 applications with a cumulative valuation of £644,000.
Applications are still open, and I encourage people to continue to apply. There was £0·5 million identified within the Department this year. We are oversubscribed already, but I encourage groups to continue to make applications. I will look at the resources available in the Department. Where we can find additional moneys, those will be found, because the value of this scheme is widely recognised right across the community.
Therefore, applications should continue to come in. Given the success of the scheme and the interest that it has already generated, it is something that we will need to look at in future years for the capital programme.