Revenue funding to support community-led housing initiatives can be come from many different sources. There is not yet a co-ordinated funding system for the whole sector, across all geographical areas and for all types of project. This can make it difficult for local authorities and housing associations to advise community organisations which funds to apply for and when. This section of the Toolkit should help.
Sources of revenue grants and loans currently include the following:
Grants are available to support set up costs, group development, feasibility studies, housing needs surveys, site surveys and working up schemes to planning application stage (where necessary)
- The Government’s Community Housing Fund supports community-led housing in England. An initial £60 million was paid to 148 local authorities in 2016/17. Although most of the Fund is aimed at supporting capital costs, some of the funding can be used for revenue grants. Many of these local authorities will have a Grants policy and application forms. A further £120 million was announced by the Housing Minister in November 2017 for the following two years, with capital and project specific revenue grants being distributed through Homes England
- Locality has provided Community-led Buildings Pre-Feasibility and Project Support Grants, to support groups to submit a Community Right to Build Order or to work up a project and make a planning application (England only). Up to £10,000 was available for start up and feasibility work and up to £40,000 for pre-development up to planning application stage. This programme is no longer accepting new applications
- Wales Co-operative Centre has revenue funding to support co-operative and community-led housing groups with project development, funded by the Welsh Government and Nationwide Foundation
- National Community Land Trust Network has a Start Up Fund – mainly for community land trusts, providing a mix of support time and grants of up to £4000.
- Power to Change (England) will be launching its Community Led Housing Programme in 2018, providing pre-development grants for community business-led housing schemes.
- Many smaller trusts and charities have supported individual community-led housing schemes with revenue grants. Larger ones such as Nationwide Foundation, Tudor Trust and Esmee Fairbairn have a particular track record in this area. Funding Central is a good place to start a search
- Some local authorities without a Community Housing Fund allocation provide small grants for start up and scheme development, often through area committee or councillor budgets
- Some town and parish councils are becoming more aware of community-led housing and can be willing to support it from their precepts, particularly in the early stages. This may include small start-up grants
- Some housing associations provide grants through their community investment budgets where these are still available
- The CLT Social Investment Fund, managed by CAF Venturesome, provides loans of up to £100,000 to get community land trust schemes up to planning stage. The loan finance is repayable only if the scheme is successful and generates an income
- A small number of local authorities operate Revolving Loan Funds for community-led schemes which can include loans for pre-development work which are only paid back if the scheme goes ahead
Revenue funding raised by Community Led Housing organisations themselves
- Crowd funding is usually used to help gap-fund capital costs, but it can also support revenue costs. One community land trust in London has raised £24,000 to pay for architect’s fees as part of its pre-development work
Revenue funding for Community Led Housing support hubs
Most community-led housing projects need some technical and non-technical support and that needs to be properly resourced. The current ‘support infrastructure’ is geographically patchy and needs to be strengthened.
There are currently three national programmes that are providing funds to help fill the gaps:
- Community Housing Fund - Some local authorities are funding new support hubs through their Community Housing Fund 2016/17 allocations, either individually or by pooling part of their funding with others. Northumberland County Council and 7 of the 8 local authorities in North and East Yorkshire are good examples
- Power to Change (England) - Power to Change’s Community-led Housing Programme, starting in 2018, will invest in the development of local enabling support in up to eight focus areas in England. It is already using £1 million of its Big Lottery funding to support the development of new support hubs in Leeds and Bristol
- Nationwide Foundation- Nationwide Foundation’s Backing Community-Led Housing programme offers funding to strengthen the infrastructure of the community-led housing sector to help build more homes and bring empty properties into use. It will fund organisations that provide the information, support, advice and technical expertise that is needed for a project to progress.
In addition, a small number of local authorities without current access to the Community Housing Fund are providing funding for support hubs in their areas. They include the Greater London Authority and East Cambridgeshire District Council