There were some moments of celebration, like the new £150m Community Ownership Fund being established after many years of campaigning by Locality members. But at the same time, a resounding silence from government on the emergency support fund that the Never More Needed campaign knows is needed #RightNow to help charities survive.
And while there were glimpses of a government that could make community power a central plank of its recovery agenda, ultimately it cannot hide its centralising instincts. The prospectus on the Levelling Up Fund also released this week seems to be a case in point: a fund designed with Whitehall holding all the levers and local places forced to bid in competition for slices of the pie.
Locality and our members have been passionately campaigning for the Community Ownership Fund since 2016
Our response to the Community Ownership Fund
We are delighted to see the announcement of the Community Ownership Fund in the Budget. Locality and our members have been passionately campaigning for this fund since 2016. It is wonderful that the government has listened to the voices of those who have experienced the power of community ownership.
Community ownership can help save our local high streets and heritage, bring communities together and be a foundation for local economic renewal. Community assets have been sold off at huge rates over the last few years, and the pandemic puts these places in further danger. Through community ownership we can prevent the buildings and spaces we love, our libraries, youth centres, allotments and public swimming pools, from falling into private hands.
We look forward to working alongside the government to ensure that this Fund lives up its promise and benefits the communities that need it the most. To do so, it must provide a mix of capital and revenue funding to support assets to be sustainable in the long-term. We will also be looking closely at the match funding element of the Fund – it is vital to ensure that communities with less resources are not disadvantaged.
With long-term government backing and support from charitable funders and social investors, this Fund can be the start of something truly transformational – putting power and resources in hands of local people to shape their neighbourhoods.
Any government serious about ‘levelling-up’ must start by putting power and resources in the hands of those who truly understand the issues
Community renewal and levelling up
Over the next few days, we will closely scrutinise the other announcements in the Budget that will affect communities and community renewal. The Chancellor said in his speech that he wants to change the economic geography of this country. Any government serious about ‘levelling-up’ must start by putting power and resources in the hands of those who truly understand the issues – local communities themselves. As our Communities in Charge campaign has shown, successful regeneration needs to be locally rooted and community led.
Our next steps
Our policy team is poring over the detail of the Budget over the next few days and we’ll be sharing a briefing with all members. This will include important updates on announcements in the Budget including:
- Details on the extension of the Furlough Scheme to September
- Details on new Business Recovery grants which some Locality members may be eligible for.
Tony Armstrong, CEO
Sign up to the Locality newsletter
You can stay up to date with news from Locality by joining our newsletter.