The Big Lottery Fund has today awarded a £150m endowment to Power to Change, a new independent grant-making foundation that will champion community businesses across England.
Power to Change will be the largest trust of its kind in Europe and will provide funding and support to existing and new community businesses.
Backed by Trinity Mirror and the National Lottery, Power to Change will support local people who want to save their local library or leisure centre, run their community shop or pub, or start new enterprises to regenerate a neighbourhood or high street.
The charitable trust will be led by newly appointed Chief Executive, Vidhya Alakeson, and chaired by Richard Handover CBE DL, former Chairman and Chief Executive of WHSmith.
The announcement of the endowment coincides with the publication of a new report from Social Finance, which conducted an in-depth analysis of the state of the community business sector. Researchers found that there are around 4,500 community businesses in England and Wales, with a combined income of £800m a year and assets of £1 billion. These community businesses employ around 24,000 staff and engage nearly 120,000 volunteers.
It is envisaged that a full range of Power to Change funding programmes and support activities will be rolled out later this year. In the meantime Power to Change will operate an initial grants programme, in conjunction with a call for Community Business Champions to identify existing community businesses already making a difference in their local areas and providing inspiration for others.
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “As a funder, we believe people should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. We want our grant-making to support the skills, assets and energy of local people and the potential in their ideas. Our £150 million endowment will be used by the trust to support existing and new community businesses to positively benefit local areas. This could range from saving a local library, pub or shop from closure to setting up a housing regeneration enterprise that provides local people with training and jobs. In addition, the Power to Change will produce learning that the wider community business sector can gain from.”
Richard Handover, Chair of Power to Change, said: “Power to Change will enable many more community-led businesses to transform local places and bring sustainable social and economic benefits to local people. We believe we can use this £150m as a cornerstone to leverage £1.5billion of additional resources to support community businesses, and leave a permanent legacy.”
The programme is one of a range of Big Lottery Fund initiatives that aim to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence of voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises. Other programmes include Big Potential and Big Assist.