I thank the Member for his question. After some very disappointing and erroneous reporting about the Communities in Transition project, I welcome this timely opportunity to remind Members and the public what this important project aims to achieve.
Communities in Transition is about helping communities to break free from the grip of paramilitarism. It is designed and delivered to empower and support those in communities that have been negatively affected by paramilitarism, criminality and ongoing coercive control to bring about positive change. In stark contrast to one unhelpful and grossly inaccurate media report, it is not designed to assist paramilitary and criminal organisations to become community organisations. Any such suggestion is an insult to those working to support communities on the ground.
Funding for the Communities in Transition project, which is part of the Executive's tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime programme, was due to end in March 2021. During the first phase of delivery, from November 2019 to March 2021, the project had a budget of £8·5 million, which has had a significant impact in communities, from helping to establish community safety fora to re-imaging murals.
In July 2020, the Executive committed, subject to budget availability and match-funding support, to extending the programme for a further three years to March 2024. The match funding was confirmed in February, and, as a result, the Communities in Transition project is set to receive an additional contribution of £10 million over three years to support delivery of the next phase of the project, from April 2021 to March 2024. Although this sum falls short of the initial bid of £12 million, which was made to support delivery, it is a positive development that the project —