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We must get the £150m Community Ownership Fund right - warns co-op trade body CEO

News item

4th March 2021
Policy campaigns
Rose Marley

The trade body representing thousands of co-operative businesses welcomes the proposed £150m Community Ownership Fund, announced in yesterday’s Budget and the extension of Social Investment Tax Relief, which encourages more people to invest in their community.

The £150m fund will help communities take over local pubs, sports clubs, theatres, music venues, post offices and other community buildings and spaces. Groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched-funding, and in 'exceptional' circumstances applicants will be able to ask for up to £1 million to save much-loved local community buildings and spaces such as sports clubs or grounds.

“We welcome the £150m Community Ownership Fund that will help more people save valuable community buildings and spaces. This is a long awaited manifesto pledge and along with partners we’ve been lobbying to see this come to fruition,” says CEO of Co-operatives UK, Rose Marley.

“The fund has the potential to be transformative in the country’s efforts to build back better from the ground up but only if we get the details right, especially around the ‘match’ element and the support packages.

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To announce the extension of Social Investment Tax Relief from one government department and the new Community Ownership Fund from another without that being a joined-up process is an example of how we might not realise the potential impact if we don’t get the detail right. We welcome the government’s engagement with the sector to ensure this.
– Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

Shared ownership key to success

“There’s a lot of talk about ‘buying your boozer’, but community ownership is not only about pubs. It’s a way to help save and create community hubs, pools, heritage buildings and other local spaces. And we know from our experience leading the Community Shares Booster programme, when local people share ownership of these essential places, they are invested in its success.” she continues.

Using funding provided by Power to Change and Architectural Heritage Fund, the Community Share Booster programme has provided £2.6 million in matched investments, leveraging in a further £7.3 million directly from the community. 

This has been raised by 9,917 investors in 41 local community businesses to save pubs, pools, heritage buildings and other local assets. 

Less than 10 years ago, community shares were almost unheard of. Yet since 2012, £155 million has been raised by 104,203 people supporting more than 440 vital businesses – an impressive 92% of which are still trading.

Social investment tax relief extension

Co-operatives UK has also been campaigning to extend social investment tax relief, alongside partners such as Big Society Capital, SEUK and others.

“We’re delighted this has been extended, which means investors can continue to claim back 30% of investments in an eligible charity or social enterprise, which includes Community Benefit Societies running community share offers. This of course encourages them to invest more into their community.

“We know that communities rushing to launch their share offers by the April deadline will be breathing a huge sigh of relief today.” says Rose.

Find out more about community shares

The Community Shares Booster provides matched investment
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