The Community Ownership Fund is open for its next application window.
The £150 million fund is designed to help communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take ownership of local assets at risk of closure.
This Fund forms part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, aiming to support ambition and building opportunity, with support targeted towards places where community assets can make the most difference. So far, the Community Ownership Fund has awarded £16.74 million to 70 projects across the UK, with £2 million allocated to Scotland; 10 of these 70 projects are in Scotland.
Changes to Eligibility and Programme Design
Based on Round 1 feedback, a number of changes have been made to the eligibility requirements and the design of the programme for Round 2 onwards. These changes are explained in full in the updated prospectus (linked for your convenience), with summaries below.
A summary of the key changes to the eligibility requirements for the relaunch of the Fund include:
- an extension for project completion (previously 6 months), now 12 months from the date indicated on the offer letter
- allowing the approval of bids for assets with at least 15 year leases and reasonable break clauses, although 25 year leases are still preferable
- removing the requirement for projects to have had a community use in the last 5 years, although assets must still have evidence of some past community use
- clarifying and simplifying the eligibility requirements for publicly owned assets and sporting assets
A summary of the key changes to the design of the programme include:
- introducing a 2 stage application process by including an always open Expression of Interest (EOI) stage
- moving to 3 bidding windows per year, meaning applicants can submit a full application once their EOI has been approved, at a time that is right for their project
- providing more information to successful applicants on what they can expect after receiving an offer letter
- introducing a cap on the number of full applications that can be made for each project. Applicants are now permitted 2 full application attempts. Application attempts from Round 1 will be disregarded from the cap.
EOI and main application stage
A 2 stage application process for applicants has been introduced.
- Applicants first need to submit an EOI form and have this approved before being sent a link to the full application for the Fund. The EOI form will test whether a project is likely to be eligible through a pass/fail assessment based on the eligibility requirements.
- The EOI stage is designed to strengthen the application process by ensuring that applicants are fully aware of the eligibility requirements ahead of submitting a full application to the Fund.
- The EOI stage will be always open so that applicants can submit an EOI form at a time that is right for their project.
- If applicants pass the EOI stage, they can then apply in any bidding window suitable for the timings of their project. There will be 3 bidding windows each year to submit a full application to the Fund.
Additionally, applicants can now see exactly what they need to include in their applications with the newly published Assessor Guidance.
The deadline for applications to this final window of Round 2 will close at 11:59am (in the morning) on Friday 14th April. If applicants apply in this window, we aim to inform you of the outcome of your application in spring 2023.
There will be additional bidding windows in the future, with 3 windows per financial year. Each bidding window will close at 11:59am (in the morning) on its respective closing date. The dates of future bidding windows will be announced in due course.
How to Apply
To complete and submit an EOI, or for further information, please visit the Community Ownership Fund dedicated page.