The Community Ownership Fund (COF) is a £150 million Fund from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities existing to help communities across the UK take ownership of assets which are at risk of being lost, and strengthen community ownership and social infrastructure helping communities to thrive.
Shared Assets are working in the Community Ownership Fund Delivery Partnership, a group of community support organisations, combining our knowledge and skills to help potential applicants to develop their project proposals and apply to the Community Ownership Fund.
Groups can apply for £300k in a mixture of capital and revenue grants through the Community Ownership Fund to purchase or lease a local asset or help cover refurbishments (Up to £2M in exceptional cases). All capital funding provided through COF must be ‘matched’ 20% or more from alternative sources. We will be working on the support programme set out below to assist groups to access these funds for the benefits of their communities.
The Community Ownership Fund Support Programme
We will be working as part of the Community Ownership Fund Delivery Partnership offering support in four main ways:
- In-depth support packages including 1:1 advice and coaching, help developing a business case, and governance and financial planning, to help submit a full application to the fund.
- An Advice Service for any questions about the Community Ownership Fund or support available. Use the enquiry form on My Community to get in touch with us.
- Webinars to support applicants to write strong applications to the fund and to raise match funding – places can be booked on the webinars on the My Community website, and we will be sharing details about webinars we will provide through our newsletter and social media platforms.
- Online resources via the My Community website: from information about the ins and outs of the fund to guides on how to develop and manage sustainable community assets.
Keep updated with the support that Shared Assets are offering in the common months through our newsletter, and keep an eye on our twitter to hear about updates, application windows and helpful resources on how to apply.
As set out by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in order to access the fund all projects must fulfil the following requirements:
• You are an incorporated voluntary and community organisation or a parish (or equivalent) council. Common legal structures for community organisations are expected to include CIOs, SCIOs, Co-operatives including Community Benefit Societies; CICs or not for profit companies limited by guarantee. Unincorporated applications can apply at the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage but must be an eligible organisation before applying at the full application stage.
• The asset is at risk without community involvement. The risk might be from closure, sale, neglect by the current owner or where renovations are essential to make the asset sustainable for the long-term benefit of the community. You will need to provide evidence about the risk and why the asset will be lost, without community action.
• The asset will provide long-term community benefit. Assets supported by the COF must continue to provide community benefit in the future. Organisations can show this through their charitable purpose and/or by having an asset lock in their governing documents. Organisations will need to demonstrate how they engage with local people and operate for the benefit of the whole community that they serve. Profits made from the use of the asset should be reinvested back into the community.
• You can ‘match’ fund your capital grant request. The capital funding you are applying for from the COF must be ‘matched’ from other sources. Find out more about this here.
• The asset will come into community ownership within 12 months of being offered funding. Organisations who already own their asset are eligible to apply to the COF, provided the asset would otherwise be at risk or lost by the community.
• The COF-funded element of the project will be spent within 12 months of being offered (though with a potential to extend for a further 12 months.)
If you need help to develop your business plan to apply to the Community Ownership Fund, submit your Expression of Interest above. If you are a land-based project, we may be able to support in your application, and you can specify a request for support from Shared Assets CIC in your application. Although not guaranteed, we may be able to help you with your application and business plan's development and urge you to apply for this support.