The UK government has launched the new £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help communities across the UK take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of closure.
The fund will run for 4 years (with at least 8 rounds), and may support the purchase and/or renovation costs of these assets and amenities. Eligible voluntary and community organisations can bid for match funding.
Proposals will need to prove the value of the asset to local people, and that the asset can run sustainably for the long term benefit of the community.
The Community Ownership Fund has 4 strategic objectives:
- provide targeted investment for communities to save community assets that would otherwise be lost
- strengthen capacity and capability in communities to support them to shape their places and develop sustainable community businesses
- empower communities in left behind places to level up
- strengthen direct links between places across the UK and the UK government
Each round will have its own priorities – the priorities for the first round are to invest in projects which are ready to access capital funding and complete their projects within 6 months.
This bidding round will be most suitable for community groups who have done preliminary work and have a viable business plan to take ownership of the local asset or amenity at risk. Applicants must be able to demonstrate the asset is at risk, has a realistic chance of sale or transfer within 6 months of applying to the Fund, and be able to provide a full business plan for how the community asset will be run sustainably.
Matched capital grants of up to £250,000 will be available for most projects. In exceptional cases, up to £1 million matched capital grants will be available to help establish a community-owned sports club or help buy a sports club or sporting facilities at risk of being lost.
The Community Ownership Fund will provide up to 50% of total capital costs, matching other funds and resources raised by the applicant. Applicants will need to demonstrate they have raised other funds to cover the total capital costs of their project. For this round of funding, applicants will need to show they will be ready to draw down capital funding from the Community Ownership Fund within 6 months of their application.
All applicants must demonstrate the potential of their projects to deliver against all the following outcomes:
- protect a community asset or amenity that is at risk and preserve its community value
- develop a sustainable operating model to secure the long-term future of the community asset in community ownership
- safeguard the use of community assets and associated local amenities
All applicants must also show how their project will help deliver one or more of the following outcomes for their place:
- increase feelings of pride and improve perceptions of the local area as a place to live
- improve social trust, cohesion and sense of belonging
- increase local participation in community life, arts and culture and/or sport
- create additional local economic outcomes – including creating jobs, volunteering opportunities and improving employability and skills levels in the local community
- create additional social and wellbeing outcomes – including delivering positive impact in physical and/or mental health and reducing loneliness and social isolation
The second round will open in December 2021, and the third in May 2022.
The deadline for Round 1 proposals is Friday 13th August.
To submit a proposal, please visit the UK government website.