Chancellor unveils £150m fund to help local people take over community assets

Community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 of government funding to take over the running of local assets as part of a new £150m initiative.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Community Ownership Fund as part of his Spring Budget today.

The £150m fund will open for applications in the summer, and will allow community groups to bid for up to £250,000 of matched funding to help them buy local assets such as pubs, shops or sports centres to run as community-owned businesses.

The government’s full Spring Budget policy document says that up to £1m of matched funding will be available, in exceptional cases, to help establish community-owned sports clubs or buy a sports ground at risk of loss from the community.

It is hoped that the fund will ensure assets that are important to a community’s social fabric, such as pubs, sports clubs, theatres and Post Office buildings, can continue to play a central role in towns and villages across the UK.

In June, the community organisation membership body Locality called for the establishment of a £1bn investment plan for community assets.

Responding to the budget, Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said on Twitter that the new fund was “great news”.

He said: “I’m hoping the mention of match-funding won’t be a blanket requirement as that will be a sting in the tail. Look forward to hearing more details…”

Jonathan Werran, chief executive of the voluntary sector think tank Localis, said: “Support for community assets in the £150m fund which is open to help shore up some of the nation’s pubs from closure is also to be greatly welcomed.

"Pubs are social anchors without equal and are central in building a sense of community cohesion.”

Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, which provides support to community businesses, said: “We’re delighted to see the announcement of the Community Ownership Fund and the Community Renewal Fund. These measures rightly put communities and community business front and centre of the recovery.”

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