Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : More cash to rescue community assets through expanded government fund [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 12 May 2023.

Even more community projects will be able to apply for funding through the government’s expanded £150 million Community Ownership Fund.

More community projects are set to benefit from funding to rescue prized local assets, such as sports clubs, music venues and historic buildings, as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities launches the third round of its £150 million Community Ownership Fund today (12 May 2023).

Changes to the fund will make it easier than ever for community groups to seize back control of prized local assets that are at risk of being lost forever – helping to strengthen and level up communities and restore optimism, hope, and pride in the UK.

The amount of funding all projects can bid for will be increasing from £250,000 to £1 million, meaning that groups can bid for more funding to help save bigger projects such as Gigg Lane, home of Bury FC, from being lost which are at the heart of local communities.

The requirement for match-funding is also being reduced to as low as 10%, making it easier for communities to acquire assets without raising additional private funding. For the first time, parish councils will also be able to apply to the Fund, which has previously only been available to charities and community groups.

The Fund is already supporting almost 100 projects across the UK including the UK’s most remote pub in Scotland, a boxing and development centre in Oldham, and a sports centre in Ballymacash, Northern Ireland.

Minister for Levelling Up, Dehenna Davison MP said:

From far-flung pubs to prized community centres, the Community Ownership Fund is putting vital assets back into the hands of communities, to be enjoyed for generations to come.

We want even more communities to benefit from the fund and that’s why we are making these changes so community groups can apply for even more money to save much loved local assets.

We will continue to grow this fund to empower local people, restoring their pride in the places where they live and levelling up communities across the United Kingdom.

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said:

The Community Ownership Fund is already supporting seven great projects across Northern Ireland with £1.5 million in funding, making a real difference to local communities.

It’s wonderful to see the launch of round three, which will save more local community assets by supporting proposals that enable communities here to thrive, boosting levelling up across Northern Ireland.

The fund is already helping communities across the country seize ownership of prized local assets that are at risk, including:

  • Britain’s most remote pub, the Old Forge Pub, on the Knoydart Peninsula in Scotland. £200,000 investment from the Community Ownership Fund has helped the people of Inverie take full ownership.
  • In Gateshead, a local community group, Fighting All Cancers Together, will renovate their local community centre with a £300,000 investment, creating a sustainable space to continue their invaluable work of supporting people diagnosed with cancer.
  • Leigh Spinners Mill, the largest building in Leigh, in Greater Manchester, which has been vacant for many years.  £250,000 of funding is transforming the space into a hot spot that offers support to community groups and creating more employment opportunities.
  • Ballymacash Sports Academy in Northern Ireland which has received £300,000 for creating state-of-the-art sports facilities and improving the club with a brand new 3G sports pitch – a specialised pitch for football comprised of three different turfs.
  • The Queen’s Ballroom in Tredegar, Wales, has been saved thanks to £90,000 in funding, The historic building was originally one of Wales’s first purpose built electric cinemas. Today it houses a fully funded programme which provides young people, aged 7-18, with the opportunity to learn fundamental skills for working in film.
  • A community in rural Suffolk successfully bought their local pub, The Racehorse Inn, through a £96,000 grant from the Community Ownership Fund in March 2022. The pub will hopefully be transformed into a local hub with a post office and shop to serve the residents of Westhall and the surrounding area.

Joanne Smith, project lead, at FACT cancer support, says:

As a small charity, to receive a Levelling up Community Ownership Fund grant has been amazing. The fund will help us on our way to creating our FACT Family Community Centre invaluable to support people diagnosed with cancer in Gateshead.

The fund has helped re-engage with a community that has lost too many safe spaces, to come together. We’re excited to see what the third round of the Community Ownership Fund will bring for other, similar projects.

The Old Forge Community Benefit Society said:

We are grateful to the Community Ownership Fund whose support helped The Old Forge Community Benefit Society to achieve its goal of a community-owned pub on the Knoydart Peninsula.

Today’s announcement is part of the government’s drive to level up local communities and boost local businesses. This will also contribute to the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.

Cllr Keith Stevens, chair, National Association of Local Councils

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is delighted that England’s local (parish and town) councils will now for the first time be able to apply to the government’s Community Ownership Fund. This vital funding will help local councils, which are the first tier of local government in most areas, continue to work with their communities to protect, enhance and preserve their treasured community assets.

Tony Armstrong, CEO, Locality (Lead for development support provider)

We are delighted by the changes announced in the round 3 prospectus of the Community Ownership Fund meaning that more local people will have control over the buildings and spaces that have significance to them and ensure that these spaces are used in ways that meet the priorities and needs of the local community.

As the lead for the development support programme, we are pleased to be bringing together the knowledge and skills of 10 leading community support organisations, to help groups with the application process, through the advice and support service.”