First, I wish to acknowledge the importance of community centres. They are the cornerstone of community life in many places around the country. As the Deputy is aware, a new capital fund for the upgrade of community centres featured in the national development plan and funding of €5 million has been secured for this under budget 2022. This is consistent with the programme for Government commitment to establish a small capital grants scheme for the maintenance, improvement and upkeep of community centres.
The details of this capital scheme are currently being developed within the Department. While details are yet to be finalised, it is likely that community centres in urban and rural areas will be eligible and that the types of work that will be eligible will include works to address safety concerns, works to improve disability access, works to improve communal facilities such as kitchens and toilets, as well as energy retrofitting. The scheme will be launched in early 2022 and further details will be announced in due course.
Separately, my Department has a number of schemes that are relevant to community centres such as the community enhancement programme. The programme in 2021 provided €4.5 million funding for small capital grants for the improvement of facilities and it will be available again in 2022.
More recently and more substantially, I recently launched the community activities fund to support community and voluntary groups impacted by Covid-19. This fund will help community groups, particularly in disadvantaged areas, with their running costs such as utility or insurance bills, as well as with improvements to their facilities.