Aims/priorities: The Community Ownership Fund is a £150 million fund over four years (2021 to 2024/25) to support community groups across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets which are at risk of being lost to the community.
The fund forms part of a package of UK wide levelling-up interventions, helping to support recovery, build opportunity and empower communities to improve their local places.
The Community Ownership Fund has four strategic objectives:
- To provide targeted investment for communities to save and sustain community assets that would otherwise be lost to community use.
- To strengthen capacity and capability in communities, supporting them to shape their places and develop sustainable community businesses.
- To empower communities in left behind places to level up.
- To strengthen direct links between places across the UK and the UK government.
To be eligible for funding, applicants must demonstrate that the community asset they want to save fulfils the following criteria:
There is a risk of loss without community intervention
- Risk might be from closure, sale, neglect and dereliction under current ownership, or unsustainable operations under the current business model. Applicants need to demonstrate the nature of the risk facing the asset. This will include evidence that without community intervention the asset or amenity would be lost to the community.
- Applicants will need to show the contribution of the asset to their community including to the social wellbeing or cultural, recreational or sporting interests of the local place.
- The asset will be used and accessed by the community or have had a community use in the recent past, which applicants will need to evidence in their application.
- Applicants will be required to demonstrate a clear plan for how the asset can be sustainable in community ownership in the long-term.
Who can apply? Applications will be accepted from voluntary and community organisations from all parts of the United Kingdom who have a viable plan for taking ownership of a community asset at risk and running it sustainably for community benefit.
To be eligible, the applicant must be an incorporated organisation which is set up to deliver charitable purpose, social purpose or public benefit. Eligible organisation types include:
- Charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).
- Scottish charitable incorporated organisation (SCIO).
- Co-operatives including Community Benefit Societies.
- Community Interest Company (CiC).
- Not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
To be eligible for investment from the Fund, the terms of community ownership must be either the ownership of the freehold or a long-term leasehold of at least 15 years with reasonable break clauses.
Assets with leaseholds of 25 years and no early break clauses are preferred as applicants will find it easier to demonstrate the long-term sustainability of the asset in community hands.
Grant amount: The Community Ownership Fund has a total value of £150 million over a four year period.
The Fund will contribute up to 50% of the total capital required.
Applicants can apply for a blend of capital and revenue funding:
- Capital funding to take ownership (including the acquisition of the building; refurbishment costs alongside a sale or a transfer). Up to £250,000 match-funded capital will be available for all eligible asset types. Exceptionally bidders will be able to make the case for up to £1 million match-funding to help establish a community-owned sports club or help buy a sports club or ground at risk of being lost without community intervention.
- Revenue funding to support the running costs of the project, ie for legal fees, general costs including utilities, staffing costs, or costs associated with appointing external consultants such as architects or other specialist support. This does not need to be matched.
- Revenue funding request cannot be more than 20% of the capital funding request or £50,000, whichever is smaller. This is also applied to sporting assets applying for up to £1 million capital funding.
- Two types of revenue funding are available:
- Pre-acquisition support - this will be awarded alongside the main capital grant to cover feasibility studies, professional services and business support in establishing the asset.
- Post-acquisition support – this will be awarded alongside the main capital grant to support organisations to manage cash flow in the first year of operation
Application process: Application documents are available from the GOV.UK website.
An updated prospectus and assessment criteria guidance for Round 2 are now available on the GOV.UK website.
Expressions of Interest for round 2 will open on 10 June 2022 and the link will be available on the GOV.UK website.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be hosting webinars on 8 June 2022 (3-4pm) and 16 June 2022 (11-12am). Information on attending one of these events can be found on the GOV.UK website. To register an interest in attending, groups need to fill out a form.
Contact information: Vist GOV.UK website