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Community Ownership Fund

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What is the grant available for?

The £150 million Community Ownership Fund is for communities across the United Kingdom. It has been set up to help communities take ownership of assets at risk of closure. It will run for 4 years until 2024/25.

Voluntary and community organisations can bid for match funding. Funding may support the purchase and/or renovation costs of community assets.

Applications are subject to the eligibility requirements outlined in this prospectus. The Fund will support a range of proposals that enable people and communities across the UK to thrive.

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 is a £150 million fund over 4 years 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.

It forms part of a substantial package of UK wide levelling-up interventions, helping to support recovery, build opportunity and empower communities to improve their local places.

We recognise it can sometimes be hard for community groups to raise the funding needed to buy the asset and run it sustainably for the long-term benefit of the community. The Community Ownership Fund will help support local people to save local community assets at risk.

The Community Ownership Fund will be opening for Expression of Interest applications on 10 June ahead of the application window opening later that month.

You will be able to submit an EOI form at any time. The full application will be submitted during fixed windows each year. Key dates for the full application bidding windows in 2022/23 are as follows:

  • bidding window 1 – June – 19 August 2022
  • there will be two more bidding windows before March 2023. Exact dates will be announced in due course
  • each bidding window will close at 12pm on its respective closing date

Your full applications must be submitted before 12pm on 19 August 2022 if you are applying in the first bidding window.

We aim to inform you of the outcome of your application around 2 months after the closing date of the bidding window you applied in.

Capital or Revenue or Both?

Capital funding is used to purchase or lease the asset and pay for refurbishment costs.

Up to £250,000 match funded capital will be available for all eligible asset types.

In exceptional cases, 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/asset at risk of being lost without community intervention.

Revenue funding is used to fund the running costs of the project. This might include legal fees, general costs including utilities, staffing costs, or costs associated with appointing external consultants such as architects or other specialist support.

Revenue funding does not need to be matched.

Please note that your revenue funding request cannot be more than 20% of your capital funding request or £50,000, whichever is smaller. This is also applied to sporting assets applying for up to £1m capital funding.

Percentage of project cost

You are required to raise other sources of funding alongside investment from the Community Ownership Fund. Having a range of funders contributing to your project can demonstrate the quality of the project and the support within the community.

The Community Ownership Fund will contribute up to 50% of total capital required. You will need to set out the total project costs, funding already secured and plans to raise any additional funding needed in your full application.

Any eligibility criteria

To secure funding for your community project, you will need to fulfil all of the following mandatory eligibility requirements:

  • The asset is at 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.

You should demonstrate the nature of the risk facing the asset. This will include evidence that, without community intervention, the asset would be lost to the community.

  • The type of asset is in scope of the Fund

We recognise it is important for communities to set out what matters most to them, what is best for their local area, and the benefit the asset brings to their place.

We won’t publish a definitive list of community assets which are in scope of the Fund. Some successful projects that we have funded to date include community centres, sporting and leisure facilities, pubs, cultural buildings and heritage buildings.

For projects in England, any building or land which has been listed by a local authority as an Asset of Community Value would be within the scope of the Fund, but your asset does not have to be listed as an Asset of Community Value to be eligible.

  • The project is sustainable and viable

Your applications should demonstrate how the asset will be protected for the long-term benefit of the community. Organisations must show this through their charitable purpose and/or an asset lock within their governing documents. 

You should demonstrate how you are accountable to the local place and/or community you represent, how you will operate for the benefit of the wider community in tangible ways, and how you will use the asset to deliver community impact.  

Profits from the community asset and businesses should be reinvested in the asset to deliver community benefit.

There is a realistic chance that the asset could be sold or transferred into community ownership within 12 months of being offered funding

Organisations who already own their asset are eligible to apply for funding to renovate their asset, provided the asset would otherwise be at risk of closure or loss to the community.

Renovations that improve the asset, but which are not essential to its continued operation, will not be funded.

  • You can demonstrate you can ‘match’ the capital grant from the Fund at the required match funding rate

Up to £250,000 match funded capital will be available for all eligible types of assets.

In exceptional cases, bidders will be able to make the case for up to £1 million match funding for assets related to sports facilities.

  • You can demonstrate that capital grant funding and match funding will be spent within 12 months of the date indicated on the offer letter

The Community Ownership Fund grant needs to be drawn down within 12 months. To draw down this grant, the equivalent level of match funding has to be in place, i.e., secured and evidence of this provided.  

Your Community Ownership Fund grant can be drawn down in full (provided you have your full match funding secured) or it can be drawn down in instalments as necessary for your project.

Any spends incurred before the date indicated on the offer letter will not be eligible for match funding.

  • The project revenue funding does not exceed £50,000 or 20% of the total capital funding applied for, whichever is smaller

Revenue funding does not need to be matched.

Projects applying for £1million match funding will not receive more than £50,000 in revenue funding.

  • Your organisation is an eligible organisation

We will consider applications 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.

Common legal structures of organisations we expect to apply include a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO); Scottish charitable incorporated organisation (SCIO); Co-operatives including Community Benefit Societies; Community Interest Company (CiC); or Not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

Unincorporated organisations can apply at the EOI stage, but they must be an eligible organisation before applying for the full application stage.

  • Your organisation is able to acquire the asset freehold, or the long-term leasehold of at least 15 years with reasonable break clauses

Community groups should clearly demonstrate the long-term security of the asset in community ownership alongside a sustainable, long-term business plan. Break clauses should be proportionate and not unduly increase the likelihood that the asset would be lost from community use through early termination.

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.

  • The organisation that applies for funding must be the same organisation that will receive the funding and run the project

If the circumstances of your organisation change after the application has been approved, this must be discussed in the first instance with the Grant Manager. There is no guarantee that changes of this nature will be allowed, and the offer of funding may be withdrawn.

Any required delivery targets / outcome required

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

Programme outcomes

For the purposes of this Fund, community ownership refers to the ownership and management of local community assets by a community organisation in order to deliver benefits for the community and place.

Community ownership of assets can boost local connections, participation and pride of place, and bolster community resilience. By investing in the capacity of communities across the UK to take ownership of the places and spaces that matter to them, we will strengthen the social infrastructure that helps communities to thrive.

Your applications should clearly demonstrate the project’s potential to deliver against all of the following outcomes:

  • protect a community asset 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

How to apply for the grant?

For more information please click here

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