New Community Ownership Fund (COF) and community shares
Launched on the 15thJuly 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have now opened the first round bidding to the new Community Ownership Fund.
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. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a guaranteed allocation in line with per capita share. This will mean a minimum of £12.3 million in Scotland, £7.1 million in Wales, and £4.3 million in Northern Ireland.
The fund will support a range of community ownership proposals. For example, projects may include:
- sporting and leisure facilities
- cinemas and theatres
- music venues
- post office buildings
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 Fund will run until 2024/25 and there will be at least 8 bidding rounds in total.
Other key dates are as follows:
- 13 August 2021 – deadline for submitting applications to the first bidding round
- December 2021 – round 2 will open
- May 2022 – round 3 will open
Voluntary and community organisations can bid for match funding.
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. All round 1 bids must be submitted by 13 August 2021.
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 can demonstrate they have raised other funds in a variety of ways, including community shares, to cover the total capital costs of their project.
This prospectus Community Ownership Fund: prospectus – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) sets out information on eligibility, how to apply and assessment criteria. You can also access the guidance notes from Community Ownership Fund: assessment criteria guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
If you are interested in Community Shares offers, please access info on Community Shares information on Co-operative Alternatives website at What are Community Shares? | Co-operative Alternatives (coopalternatives.coop)
Co-operative Alternatives will run a workshop on the 22ndSeptember on Community Shares to register https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/165397681919
and on the 23rdSeptember on Loanstock for co-operatives to register