Community Ownership Fund bids received
The Community Ownership Fund first bidding round was open from 15 July to 13 August 2021. A total of 161 bids were submitted. The first bidding round was primarily aimed at those projects which could, with funding, be underway within 6 months.
A total of 161 bids were submitted.
Community Ownership Fund assessment and shortlisting
The 161 bids were assessed against the criteria set out in the Prospectus and in the Assessment Criteria document published on gov.uk. This included a Strategic Case, a Management Case, and demonstrating potential to deliver community benefit and added value of the community asset based on community need. The application pro-forma submitted by applicants formed the main focus of each assessment, however many applicants submitted additional documentation. These were taken into consideration where appropriate.
An initial eligibility assessment took place against the published criteria in the prospectus to ensure the asset was in scope and the bidder eligible. Bids were then assessed and required to meet benchmark minimum scores against the assessment criteria in order to be considered fundable (which included minimum scores for each of their strategic case, management case, potential to deliver community benefits and added value based on community need).
Comments from officials in the Offices for the Secretaries of States for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as DCMS, were also considered during the assessment process. The Devolved Administrations were also given an opportunity to comment on bids from their the respective nations.
A process of moderation was then undertaken. Assessments selected for moderation were a mix of low, borderline, and high scoring bids or were particularly complex bids. Moderation panels discussed the approach to scoring each criteria to ensure that the assessment guidance had been applied fairly and consistently, amending any scores as necessary. DLUHC also sought the services of Local Partnerships and the Government Actuary Department to act as independent assurers to review and moderate assessments to ensure that the assessment criteria had been applied fairly across the assessment of all the bids.
Due diligence checks were also undertaken to ensure that the organisations applying for funding had submitted a viable business plan and that they could be expected to utilise that funding effectively and responsibly.
Following moderation, officials were able to present a shortlist of 30 bids which had met the minimum criteria and therefore considered fundable. Of the 131 bids which did not make the shortlist of bids considered fundable, 53 were unsuccessful (did not meet the minimum scoring criteria), 69 were disqualified (as they did not meet the requirements of the fund) and 9 failed due diligence checks.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was given advice with the shortlist of bids for his decision on which to fund. As set out in the prospectus, he was given the option to apply three additional factors when considering the shortlist in order to select the final list for funding. These were to ensure a balanced spread of location of projects across all parts of the United Kingdom; a proportionate spread of the location of projects between rural and urban areas; and a reasonable thematic split of asset types supported by the programme.
Ministers from HM Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices were also presented with the shortlist and were asked for comments and advice, based on the same three additional factors.
The Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Scotland both recused themselves from the decision-making process due to a bid on the shortlist being from their constituency, with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland taking their places respectively and providing advice. It was noted for the record that all ministers had notified their respective Private Offices that they had no personal or pecuniary interests in relation to the Fund.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities decided to place particular focus on ensuring there was a geographic spread of projects across the United Kingdom. The ministers from HM Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices, agreed with this approach.
This resulted in the final decision being taken by Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities to fund a total of 21 bids (totalling £5.3m) from the shortlisted fundable bids. 5 bids (totalling £1.07m) from Scotland, 3 (totalling £0.46m) from Wales, 1 (totalling £0.3m) from Northern Ireland and 12 (totalling £3.47m) from England
Considerations of the equalities impacts of ministerial decisions
Ministers subsequently received detailed equalities analysis for the list of bids they had provisionally selected for funding compared with the list of bids not selected. Once ministers had considered the impacts of their decision on equalities, in light of the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010, S.149 of the Public Sector Equality Duty and, in the case of Northern Ireland, the additional requirements of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, they were content to confirm their decisions.
Announcement and next steps
The winners from the first round of the Community Ownership Fund were announced by the Chancellor at the 2021 Spending Review and are listed on Community Ownership Fund: first round successful bidders. Further information has been sent directly to the applicants whose bids were unsuccessful.