Government opens £3m grant fund for rural village halls

The government has announced a new £3m grant scheme for rural village halls.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it expected 125 village halls to receive help through the fund, meaning that the three-year grants are likely to be worth between £20,000 and £25,000 each.

The funding is for capital expenditure, which could include building and extending buildings, improving facilities and installing better internet connections.

The fund is available only to rural communities in England. Community Matters, which supports charities and other voluntary organisations all over the UK, welcomed the funding, but said it was “disappointing” that urban halls had missed out on support.

Defra said details on how to apply to the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund would be published later.

Chris Cowcher, head of policy for grantmaker the Plunkett Foundation, said the funding could help village halls support other parts of civil society.

“Many village halls host community-owned businesses, such as local shops, markets and post offices,” he said.

“They create a real beating heart to their villages that not only provides vital services but reaches out to the vulnerable, isolated and lonely. We hope this fund will support more community enterprises and quite simply help rural places to thrive.”

Community Matters said the group was “really pleased to see this increase of support for rural community buildings, which will support them to remain at the heart of their community.

“We were, however, disappointed that as yet no consideration has been given to the support of urban community buildings fulfilling the same function”.

Research by Community Matters, published in 2021, found that charities running village halls and other community assets had faced “a potential crisis” during the coronavirus pandemic as a result of “shifting and contradictory guidance” from the government about lockdown restrictions.

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