The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have produced a useful overview of the following 4 local regeneration schemes.

1. The UK Community Renewal Fund.
2. The Levelling Up Fund.
3. The Community Ownership Fund, and
4. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

In addition, the department is also inviting Expressions of Interest to Round 4 of the Community Ownership Fund (COF).

This will be the final round of the Community Ownership Fund.

A new Expression of Interest (EoI) form has been introduced for this round. The new EOI has been simplified to give applicants a result within minutes, meaning that they will be able to see whether their project could be suitable for COF much quicker than before.

To enable the move to the new system, EOIs submitted prior to February 2024 will no longer be valid. If you wish to submit a full application to COF in a future application window, you will need to complete a new EOI. Only applicants who submitted an EOI in the new system will be informed when a bidding window is about to open and will receive the link needed to apply to COF.

Details of the Community Ownership Fund are provided below.

THE COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP FUND – Capital and revenue grants of up to £2 million are available to UK voluntary, community and charitable organisations, including Community Interest Companies, to take ownership of local assets at risk of being lost to the community, such as pubs, parks, community buildings, music venues and shops.

The UK Community Ownership Fund, which has a total budget of £150 million over 4 years up to 2025, provides grants to voluntary, community and charitable organisations in the UK to support them in taking ownership of local assets at risk of being lost to the community, such as (please note that this is not an exclusive list)

o Cinemas.
o Community Centres.
o Galleries.
o Museums
o Music Venues.
o Parks.
o Post Offices.
o Public Houses.
o Shops.
o Sport and leisure facilities, and
o Theatres.

The risk of loss to the community could be from closure, sale, neglect and/or dereliction under their current ownership, or unsustainable operations through their current business model. Applicants need to demonstrate the nature of the risk facing the asset. This will include evidence that without community intervention the asset or amenity would be lost to the community.

The Fund will support proposals to:

o Acquire a physical community asset or facility at risk, such as land and buildings which deliver a benefit to local people.
o Move a community amenity to a new, more appropriate location within the same community. This might be because a different location offers better value to continue the amenity, or because the venue is in itself an asset of community value.
o Purchase of associated stock, collections or intellectual property, where it is associated with buying a physical asset or buying a business to save an amenity.
o Renovate, repair or refurbish the asset, only where this is part of a sale or transfer to save a community asset at risk and where this is critical to saving the asset and making it sustainable, and/or
o Set up a new community business or buy an existing business in order to save an asset or amenity.

Community projects must seek to achieve at least one of the following:

o Improve local economic outcomes – including creating jobs, volunteering opportunities and improving employability and skills levels in the local community.
o Improve social and wellbeing outcomes – including having a positive impact on physical and/or mental health of local people and reducing loneliness and social isolation.
o Improve social trust, cohesion and sense of belonging.
o Increase feelings of pride in, and improve perceptions of, the local area as a place to live, and/or
o Increase local participation in community life, arts, culture or sport.

Grants are available to enable communities across the UK to purchase community assets and amenities and run them as sustainable community businesses. The Fund will contribute up to 80% of the total capital required. Applicants are not required to have all match funding sources secured at the time of project application.

The maximum capital funding available to new applicants from Round 3 Window 2 onwards has been extended to £2 million. Applicants are now able to apply for up to £2 million in capital funding. For further details please read the prospectus.

Applicants can apply for a blend of capital and revenue funding, as follows

1. Capital Funding – to take ownership, including the acquisition of the building; refurbishment costs alongside a sale or a transfer. Up to £2 million match-funded capital will be available for all eligible asset types.
Revenue Funding – to support the running costs of the project; for example, for legal fees, general costs including utilities, staffing costs, or costs associated with appointing external consultants such as architects or other specialist support. This does not need to be matched. Please note that revenue funding requests cannot be more than 20% of the capital funding request or £50,000, whichever is smaller.

Two types of revenue funding are available:

(i) Pre-acquisition support – this will be awarded alongside the main capital grant to cover feasibility studies, professional services and business support in establishing the asset, and
Post acquisition support – this will be awarded alongside the main capital grant to support organisations to manage cash flow during the first year of operation.

Applications will be accepted from voluntary and community organisations from all parts of the United Kingdom who have a viable plan for taking ownership of a community asset at risk and running it sustainably for community benefit.

To qualify for grant support, the terms of community ownership must be either the ownership of the freehold or a long-term leasehold of at least 15 years with reasonable break clauses. Assets with leaseholds of 25 years and no early break clauses are preferred as applicants will find it easier to demonstrate the long-term sustainability of the asset in community hands.

Funding is not available for:

o General revenue for community activities or events unrelated to the acquisition or transfer of a community asset.
o local authorities.
o New-build projects to develop new assets, unrelated to saving or preserving an existing asset.
o Paying off businesses’ debts or to buy an indebted business.
o Purchasing publicly owned assets where the public authority would credit a capital receipt.
o Purchasing or developing housing, including social housing. However, applications can include housing assets where these are a small part of supporting the overall financial sustainability of the asset in community ownership.
o Supporting the acquisition of public sector assets if this involves transferring responsibility for delivering statutory services from the public authority to the community organisation.
o Town, parish and community councils, or
o Unincorporated organisations (unless they plan to incorporate before the full application stage) or private individuals.

Further information, guidance and details about how to submit an Expression of Interest is available on the GOV.UK website