What is the Community Wealth Fund?

The Community Wealth Fund is a proposed new fund that would invest long term in the neighbourhoods that need it most.

What would the Community Wealth Fund be used for?

The Community Wealth Fund would support communities to develop social infrastructure:

  • Places and spaces to meet, such as pubs and libraries
  • Connectedness, both physical and digital, such as public transport and broadband
  • An active and engaged community, including local civic organisations and community participation.

Importantly, it would place residents at the heart of decision making, putting them in charge of the spend and enabling them to develop services and facilities that meet their needs and aspirations.

Where would the money be targeted?

The Community Wealth Fund would initially target money to 225 neighbourhoods identified as perhaps the most ‘left behind’.

Recent research has identified these neighbourhoods. They are the 10% most deprived on the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and are also the 10% of areas that have the greatest community need according to a new Community Needs index (CNI).

Please see here for more information about this research.

Why is a Community Wealth Fund needed?

People living in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods have worse social and economic outcomes than people living in similarly deprived areas that have places to meet, connectivity and an active and engaged community. Unemployment is higher, health is worse and levels of educational attainment and participation in higher education is lower. This suggests the vital importance of social infrastructure in communities.

The Community Wealth Fund would provide the long-term, targeted investment in social infrastructure that is urgently needed in these areas, enabling communities to take control of improving their neighbourhoods and improve their quality of life.

Where would the money for a Community Wealth Fund come from?

We propose that the Community Wealth Fund is funded by the next wave of dormant assets to be released for ‘good causes’ from stocks, shares, bonds, insurance and pension policies. These assets are ‘dormant’ because they have not been touched for 15 years, and the owner cannot be traced.

In 2008, the government set up a scheme to release the funds in dormant bank and building society accounts for ‘good causes’. Following the positive recommendation of a commission set up to consider expanding the scheme to other asset classes in 2016, the government has been working with the financial services industry on the voluntary release of dormant stocks, shares, bonds, pension and insurance funds. The government estimated that nearly £900m might initially be available from this source. We propose this money is used to create the Community Wealth Fund.

As the new dormant assets will take some time to come on stream, we are also asking for the release of the £500m in the National Debt Fund to provide initial investment for the Community Wealth Fund.

How would the Community Wealth Fund work in practice?

We propose that the Community Wealth Fund is set up as an independent endowment, with its funding decisions guided by four principles:

  • provision of long-term funding (10 -15 years)
  • investment at the hyper-local level (directly to communities of c.3,000 – 10,000 residents)
  • community-led decision making
  • appropriate support provided to build community confidence and capacity.

We intend to set up an independent Task Force to decide how the Community Wealth Fund would work in practice.

When could the first grants be released?

The first grants might  be distributed by 2023, at the earliest. This timeline reflects the fact that legislation is required to release the new dormant assets.

Is the campaign England or UK wide?

Currently, the research that underpins the campaign is England focused.

Our ambition is for the campaign to be UK-wide. We are asking partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to lend their support and promote the campaign in their geographies; specifically, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

Does the Community Wealth Fund have political support?

The campaign is gaining traction with politicians in Westminster – the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, is very supportive of the proposal. And a number of local authorities are joining the call for investment in ‘left behind’ communities, becoming members of the Alliance of organisations supporting our proposal for a Community Wealth Fund.

Who can join the Alliance?

Any organisation, operating within the law, that supports the idea and principles of the Community Wealth Fund are invited to join the Alliance. The growing list of members already includes many local and national charities, local authorities, and private sector organisations.

Can individuals support the Community Wealth Fund?

Alliance membership is for organisations only, but individuals can support the Community Wealth Fund in more informal ways. We encourage people who are interested in the campaign to follow our Twitter account and share our proposal with relevant organisations, decision-makers and community groups they work with.

What does membership mean?

Membership simply means that your organisation is saying publicly that it supports the proposal for a Community Wealth Fund. It does not imply any commitment beyond this, financial or otherwise.

Some members choose to take an active role in promoting the proposal, for instance by asking their local authority to support the Community Wealth Fund or by recommending it in their submissions to government.

Every member appears on the Alliance members list on our website and has access to our monthly newsletter and our events.

How can organisations sign up to the Alliance?

Organisations can sign up via our simple online form.

How is the campaign governed?

An Advisory Group represents the wider Alliance, providing strategic advice and direction to the campaign. The Advisory Group consists of representatives from: People’s Heath Trust, NCVO, NAVCA, Small Charities Coalition, brap, Lloyd’s Bank Foundation for England & Wales, Newcastle City Council, Brookside Big Local, and Local Trust.

Local Trust is one of the founding members of the Alliance and provides its secretariat. In practice, this means Local Trust employs the Community Wealth Fund campaigns team and its policy team support the campaign with policy, parliamentary, government liaison and media work.

How does the Community Wealth Fund relate to Big Local?

The Community Wealth Fund has some core elements in common with the Big Local programme, including community control of the spend with appropriate support and long-term funding (10-15 years).

The Fund would build on learning from the Big Local programme and other programmes that have sought to regenerate deprived neighbourhoods, including previous government programmes such as the New Deal for Communities.

How does Community Wealth Building relate to the Community Wealth Fund?

Our campaign uses the term ‘community wealth’ broadly. The Community Wealth Fund would support the development of community led social infrastructure as a firm foundation to improve socio-economic outcomes in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. However, the communities receiving awards from the Fund may choose to use Community Wealth Building approaches, which are designed to keep wealth circulating in communities, to improve the prospects of their areas.