Finance · 30 May 2018

£700,000 fund opens to help local communities take back control of the high street

high street communities
The fund will support local communities to populate the high street with new businesses

Local groups across England are invited to apply for grants from a new fund worth £700,000 to help regenerate local high streets with community-run businesses

The Bright Ideas Fund, opened by independent trust Power to Change, will see grants of up to £15,000 awarded to local groups with an idea for a community-run business, from launderettes and swimming pools to

First launched in October 2016, the fund has seen 89 community businesses across England awarded almost £1.3m to kickstart projects. Bright Ideas Fund expects to deliver £200,000 in business development support and £500,000 in grants in the upcoming fourth round.

Grants of up to £15,000 will fund development and startup costs (such as legal fees), acquisition of buildings or assets and business planning. The fund also offers regional networking opportunities.

Sara Buchanan, fund programme manager at Power to Change, said: “There’s never been a more pressing need for community run businesses.  Every day we hear about high street stores closing and in many places boarded up shops have long been a reality for communities.

“This is a chance for communities to take back control.  Any business can be a community business and there are almost 7,000 in England alone right now with a combined market income of £1.2bn. How they differ is that any profits flow back into the immediate community to deliver positive social impact for local people.”

The Bright Ideas Fund will reopen for applications on 26 June at 10am and close on 31 July at midnight.

Previous rounds of the fund have seen communities save local heritage assets, such as a grade II listed former council-run swimming paths in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, which reopened last month and is operating with the support of 50 local volunteers

The Power to Change programme is run by Locality, the national network for community organisations. Stephen Rolph, head of assets and enterprise at Locality, said: “Every day we see the impact of local communities coming together to meet local needs and tackle challenges in their area.

“This new funding will enable many more organisations to unlock the power in their communities so that local people can shape their own futures, filling gaps in much needed services.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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