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Community Ownership Fund opens new round

The Government's Community Ownership Fund has launched a new funding window, with changes to the programme design and eligibility requirements in response to feedback from previous applicants. 

A screenshot of a website for a shop.

The website of Havards community shop and community benefit society in the small town of Newport/ Trefdraeth in West Wales is an interesting mix of product listings and community news. The shop won funding from the Community Ownership Fund in 2022. (Photo: Havards Community Shop)

Date published

Voluntary and community groups are being invited to bid for match funding to take ownership of local assets and run them for the benefit of the local community.

The Community Ownership Fund is a £150m government fund which will support community groups in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets which are at risk of being lost to the community.

The Fund will run until March 2025 and will feature a series bidding windows.

Round Three of the Fund launched with an updated prospectus on 12 May 2023. Civil servants say the programme has been redesigned and the eligibility requirements adjusted in response to feedback from previous applicants and stakeholders. The current funding window will close on July 12, 2023.

What funding is available?

Organisations can apply for up to £250,000 to purchase or lease an asset and pay for its refurbishment. In exceptional cases, up to £1m in funding is available where the asset is at risk of being lost. Applicants are required to contribute 20% match funding towards the total capital required.

In addition, up to £50,000 is available to fund project development costs or running costs in the first year of operation. These costs don't need match funding.

What are the eligibility criteria?

All projects must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Applicants must be  an incorporated voluntary and community organisation or a parish (or equivalent) council
  • The asset is at risk without community involvement
  • The asset will provide a long-term community benefit and profits made from the use of the asset should be reinvested back into the community
  • Applicants can match fund their capital grant request from other sources
  • The asset will come into community ownership within 12 months of being offered funding
  • The funded element of the project will be spent within 12 months of being offered.

What is the application process?

Applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest form. These expressions of interest forms can be completed and submitted at any time

If successful, applicants will be invited to submit a full application during the application windows.

The Community Ownership Fund bidding prospectus provides detailed guidance on the aims of the fund, eligibility criteria, funding and support assessment criteria and the decision-making process.

Funding local assets

To date, the Community Ownership Fund has funded 98 projects with a total cost of £23.9m.

Asset types supported by the Fund, include community centres, pubs, sports clubs and heritage buildings, and also a riding for the disabled service. 

Saving the local hardware shop

In the small town of Newport / Trefdraeth in Pembrokeshire, the Fund supported the purchase of a local hardware store. Havards hardware shop has sold small useful everyday items such as hand tools, nails and screws, crockery and gardening equipment for 141 years. The town is a popular tourist destination in the summer, but local resources are limited. When the shop looked likely to close in 2022, Newport residents set up a community benefit society and launched a share offer to buy the building and run it as a community shop. They raised an impressive £445,000.

Local people then worked with the Cwmpas development agency to make a compelling case for additional funding and successfully won £200,000 in capital funding from the Fund and a further £30,000 in revenue funding. It is now the UK's first community-owned hardware shop.