CLTs might have heard about a number of new funding streams linked to recovery and local regeneration recently announced by government. Whilst many details remain unclear, we are currently working with partners to share what we know collectively about the details. The funds are not mainly for housing, yet there may be opportunities for CLTs, hubs and other community led housing schemes, particularly community business schemes, to access funding for certain types of projects. We are feeding into conversations with civil servants to input into the design of schemes. It’s likely that timescales will be very short for these funds so you should start preparing based on what we know so far.
Community Ownership Fund
The £150 million Community Ownership Fund will help community groups buy or take over local community assets at risk of being lost. Grants of up to £250,000 will be available to groups across the UK through direct application by the groups.
Many of the details are yet to be confirmed, but we know that the asset to be saved should “place based” and something that brings the community together. We expect that assets “at risk” will include those likely to be sold or close which are dilapidated or derelict. It also seems that by “asset” they are focused more on the service or function because you could bid — for example — to save a community centre by buying a different building and moving it there if that were the most viable and sensible solution to save the asset (the community centre). It’s not expected that new assets will be covered by the scheme.
We expect it will mostly consist of capital grant, but there will be scope for some revenue funding — for example to help a community work up a feasibility study, planning, etc. We have made the case to decision makers that community led housing projects should fall within the scheme’s scope, but we think it may only be open to groups that are bringing forward mixed use schemes where housing is not the principal focus. For example, renovating a town hall and converting the top floor into rented flats in order to keep the ground and first floors open for community use.
The fund will open in June.
UK Community Renewal Fund
The UK Community Renewal Fund will provide £220 million in funding to help places across the UK prepare for the introduction of the new £1.5 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund — the new fund announced post-Brexit in place of EU funds.
This is 90% a revenue fund aimed at communities most in need. 100 priority local authority areas have been identified. They want to fund innovative projects which primarily invest in:
- Local business
- Communities and place
- Supporting people into employment.
Applications will be led by local authorities or combined authorities where they exist. So the first step will be to make contact with the person coordinating the submission in your local area. Given they will be local submissions, it’s most likely that projects which meet local strategic priorities and are part of a wider local picture will be included by local areas. Local/combined authority bids need to be submitted by 18 June.
Levelling Up Fund
The Levelling Up Fund is a new £4.6 billion UK-wide fund to support local infrastructure which brings economic benefits and helps bind communities together. As such, it’s not directly a source of funding for housing projects. However, where CLTs are part of wider schemes, such as community infrastructure in urban regeneration projects or work around the high street or work on cultural investment, it may be possible to make the case for funding.
Applications will be led by local authorities also to be submitted by 18 June. So you should start talking to your local authority now if you think you have a scheme that could be eligible.
Help to Build Scheme
The Help to Build Scheme will make over £150 million in funding available to kickstart a self building revolution, making it more affordable and accessible. The scheme will provide an equity loan on the completed home, similar to the Help to Buy scheme.
New homes can be made to order or built from scratch and will benefit small building firms as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs. It’s hoped it will support 30-40,000 new homes. A Self and custom build action plan has also been published setting out government measures to support the sector.
There’s also £2.1 million in additional funding to help communities decide where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built and what they should look like.
The prospectus for the renewed Community Housing Fund still hasn’t been announced, but we’re pushing for details to be finalised and the fund opened as soon as possible. Watch our April 1 member-only policy briefing to hear about what we can share publicly from conversations with government and our partners.
We will keep our members up-to-date on these funding opportunities via the member newsletter.