Power to Change launches up to £12 million of emergency support to help community businesses during the coronavirus crisis

Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England, is launching up to £12 million of emergency support to provide both immediate and medium-term help for community businesses facing a loss of trading income during the coronavirus crisis.

The crisis has highlighted the vital role that community businesses play in reviving local assets, protecting the services that people rely on, and addressing local needs.

The new emergency support includes:

  • £7 million in rescue funding for community businesses, offering grants up to £25,000 to contribute towards trading income losses incurred between April and June 2020. This first pot of funding is available to current and previous Power to Change grantees, and to community businesses which are members of Power to Change’s strategic partners – Co-operatives UK, Locality and the Plunkett Foundation – all of whom played a key role in designing this response.
  • £5 million in recovery funding, to be made available later this year, based on learning from the first pot to help community businesses rebuild and recover strongly from the crisis.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, community businesses have continued to provide essential support in their communities in different places across the country, often serving as a lifeline for those most in need.

Examples include Homebaked, a community land trust and co-operative bakery in Liverpool which has set up a new takeaway delivery service during lockdown and is working with local groups to get food and care to the vulnerable. Nudge, a community business that converts derelict buildings in Plymouth, has created a WiFi net between the buildings so it can provide free internet access to the community. And The Anglers Rest, a community pub and post office in the Peak District, has maintained its key services during the crisis so that residents can continue to collect pension payments, pay essential bills and withdraw cash for food supplies.

Yet while coronavirus has increased the demands placed on community businesses, many are experiencing a sharp drop in revenue due to the lockdown. The Community Business Market Report 2019 shows there are approximately 9,000 community businesses in England. Of these, 58% (or more than 5,000 community businesses) have had to stop their primary operations completely because they are either venues (community hubs), retail (pubs and cafes) or arts/culture businesses (leisure centres, libraries, art centres).

Despite these challenges, Power to Change is confident the community business sector can emerge to play an even more central role in their neighbourhoods following this crisis – building on the renewed sense of community spirit across the country and helping to play a key role in rebuilding our society and economy.

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change, said: “The coronavirus crisis has shown just how important community businesses are to the lives of local people right across the country. From providing essential supplies and services, to supporting the vulnerable and isolated, there have been countless stories of community businesses leading the way in the community response to COVID-19.

“Our aim now is to ensure that community businesses can continue their vital work despite the impact of lost trading due to coronavirus. We have designed this emergency support in close collaboration with our partners Cooperatives UK, Locality, and the Plunkett Foundation, taking on board insights and advice from across the sector. We will continually review the short- and medium-term needs of community businesses as we support them throughout this crisis and beyond.”

Power to Change has invested in over 1,000 community businesses since it launched in 2015 with an endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund. This emergency support will be open for applications from week commencing 11th May to support those organisations and around a thousand more community businesses who are members of Co-operatives UK, Locality and Plunkett Foundation. Those organisations can find out more on the Power to Change website and attend a free webinar about the scheme on 6th May.

Power to Change began contacting some of its grantees in the week commencing 13th April to begin testing and opening up the emergency support available. All new applications to Power to Change funding programmes are paused while it focuses on delivering its emergency support. However, those who have already been awarded a grant will receive it as planned.

Find out more about the C-19 Emergency Trading Income Support Scheme.

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