Charities invited to bid for £150m fund to take over community amenities

Charities are being invited to bid for hundreds of thousands of pounds worth in grants to take over local assets that are facing closure, such as pubs, post office buildings and shops, for local communities.

The government has announced details of the £150m Community Ownership Fund to enable communities to take ownership of local amenities at risk of closing.

At least eight bidding rounds are to take place over the next four years.

Priority for the first round is to invest in projects that are ready to access capital finding and complete projects within six months. The deadline for first round bids is August 13.

For this initial round, matched capital grants of up to £250,000 will be available for most projects.

However, in exceptional cases up to £1m in matched capital grants will be available to help establish a community owned sports club or to help buy a sports club or sporting facility that is at risk of closure.

“Applicants will need to demonstrate they have raised other funds to cover the total capital costs of their project,” says the government.

“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 six months of their application.”

Revenue funding is also being made available and will not need to be matched. This is up to £50,000 and no more than a fifth of the total capital costs applied for.

A second bidding round is set to open in December, with a third in May 2022.

Typical projects to be funded include:
• sporting and leisure facilities
• cinemas and theatres
• music venues
• museums
• galleries
• parks
• pubs
• post office buildings
• shops

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick said: “Whether it’s the pub on the high street that’s facing closure, a village shop or a local sports team that might lose its ground – this is an opportunity for groups to take them over and to run them as businesses by the community for the community.

“These are the institutions, the glue in our social fabric, that give people a chance to meet their neighbours and friends and bond over a shared love of where they live. Institutions that affirm powerful links between identity and place, between the past and the future and between community and purpose.

“As we bounce back from the pandemic, we are determined to see these special places and the people that care about them thrive through this Fund. I look forward to seeing the ambition and creativity of the proposals we receive.”

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