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6 June 2022

UK Community Ownership Fund

Funding for charities and community groups across the UK who want to take ownership of, and save, local assets such as pubs, sports clubs, music venues, historic buildings, pubs, theatres and parks.

The UK Government has announced that its £150 million Community Ownership Fund will reopen for applications on 10 June 2022 and will be open to more community groups following expansion of its levelling up funding. The Fund which will run until 2024/25 and have a total of at least eight funding rounds, is open to community groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Following feedback from previous applicants, changes have been made for the second round, enabling more community groups to take control of venues and other assets in their area that are at risk of being lost forever.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the new prospectus for round two, and groups who are considering applying to the new round are encouraged to read the guidelines as some key changes have been made.

Some of the changes made for Round 2 include:

  • Removing the requirements for projects to have had a community use in the last five years, although assets must still have evidence of some past community use.
  • Applicants who have a minimum of a 15-year lease on an asset will now be considered for funding. Previously leases were restricted to a minimum of 25 years.
  • A two-stage application process is being introduced.
    • Stage one is to complete a brief Expression of Interest form. Applicants will be able to check if their project is likely to be eligible and receive quick feedback on their proposals before submitting a full application. The EOI form can be submitted at any time as there are no deadlines, enabling applicants to start at a time that is suitable to them.
    • Stage two will see applicants with eligible projects invited to submit a full application.
  • There will now be three bidding windows per year, meaning applicants can submit a full application once their EOI has been approved, at a time that is right for their project.
  • Introduction of a two-application limit per project.
  • Clarifying eligibility requirements for funding sporting assets and public sector assets.
  • Extension of timeline for completing projects from 6 months to 12 months from the date indicated on the offer letter.
  • Providing more information to successful applicants on what they can expect after receiving an offer letter.

Commenting on the new round, Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution, Neil O’Brien MP said:

“We want even more communities to benefit from the fund and that’s why we are reforming the application process and expanding the eligibility criteria.

“We will continue to grow this fund to empower local people, restoring their pride in the places where they live and levelling up communities across the United Kingdom.”

Organisations that would like to prepare for applying to the new round can read the guidance notes which are now available on GOV.UK and attend the first of two webinars on 8 June 2022. There will be a second webinar on 16 June. Those who are interested in attending need to complete a form on the GOV.UK website in order to be sent an invite.

Expressions of Interest will be accepted from 10 June 2022.

Full details…

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