The Community Wealth Fund Alliance (CWFA) – a group of over 660 civil society, public and private sector organisations advocating to secure long-term, community-led investment in the neighbourhoods that need it most – has succeeded in securing new funding for the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England.  


Today’s announcement by the government of its commitment to create new community wealth funds comes after it examined the proposal as part of its national consultation on which causes in England should benefit from around £740m worth of new money from the expanded Dormant Assets Scheme. This is an initiative that sees funds in various types of financial accounts, for which an owner cannot be found, put to good use for social or environmental causes.  Community wealth funds will now become an additional fourth beneficiary of dormant assets funding in England, with government also set to consult on the overall design of the important new initiative. 


New community wealth funds will empower local residents in the most deprived neighbourhoods of the country to invest in their local communities and rebuild their social institutions after decades of neglect. Local assets such as community hubs, pubs, community shops, cafes, sport clubs, arts centres, and green spaces could benefit as the focus this new investment, alongside other community activities and services that are lacking in the most ‘left behind’ areas.  


Announcing the development, the minister responsible for dormant assets Stuart Andrew MP said: 

“The creation of a community wealth fund will give local residents in some of the more deprived areas of the country the power to improve where they live and invest in what’s important to them.” 


Commenting on the announcement, Matt Leach, Chief Executive of Local Trust, a founding member of the CWFA, said: 

“We warmly welcome the Government’s announcement that community wealth funds will be supported through dormant assets funding. We hope that the creation of these new neighbourhood-based resident-led funds will signal a sea-change in how we support communities that for decades have missed out on investment and opportunities.  


“And that the residents of these areas will get the chance to drive transformational change in their communities, through consistent long-term funding. We look forward to engaging with DCMS on the consultation and supporting them in developing the detail of how these funds will be distributed”. 


The launch of the CWFA, and the formal start of the campaign, was in 2019. The campaign has been championed by a cross-sector coalition of over 660 civil society, public and private sector organisations, which includes over 50 local and combined authorities. 


The idea of community wealth funds also commands the backing of over 200 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including members of the cross-party APPG for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, which is co-chaired by Paul Howell MP and Dame Diana Johnson DBE MP. Their efforts during the passage of the Dormant Assets Act of 2022 led to community wealth funds being named as an explicit option in the public consultation on the future of dormant assets funding over the past summer. 


Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield and Conservative co-chair of the APPG said:  

“For levelling up to be a success, we need to support community efforts and locally-led solutions and approaches that tackle the wide range of causes of inequality. Cost of living challenges mean the need for community wealth funds to do this has never been more timely and important. 

“It would have a transformative effect for those communities in my Sedgefield constituency that haven’t had access to the funding and resources compared to other neighbouring areas, and which as a result have missed out, and I look forward to making it a reality.” 


Dame Diana Johnson DBE, MP for Kingston-upon-Hull North and Labour co-chair of the APPG said  

“The creation of community wealth funds through the expanded dormant assets scheme is a big win in our journey towards securing long term funding for our country’s most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, such as those in my constituency of Kingston-upon-Hull North. 

“I am extremely grateful to colleagues from the House of Lords and in the Commons who have supported us with this cause and look forward to the consultation on the establishment of the funds.” 


Read the APPG for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods statement here 


The CWFA has been advocating for the provision of long-term, patient investment over 10 years directly to disadvantaged and ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, with local people taking the lead in making decisions about how to use the funds to improve their communities. It has been inspired, and builds on, the groundbreaking Big Local programme, which gave 150 communities just over £1m each in 2012 to lead local change over a 10-15 year period.  


The Big Local programme has funded community led regeneration initiatives such as Ambition Lawrence Weston, a resident-driven organisation in Bristol. Ambition Lawrence Weston successes include improving transport links, increasing access to affordable food options as well as local employment opportunities, and the construction of a community-owned wind farm to help residents struggling with energy bills, among others.   


Barbara Slasor, community development lead for the Gaunless Gateway Big Local partnership in County Durham, and expert witness in the APPG’s final inquiry session into levelling up ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, said: 

“Funding through community wealth funds will be transformative. I know this first hand from my experience of the Big Local programme, which has provided long-term resources and support for local residents in Bishop Auckland to improve our area and create better prospects for our community. 

“Investment of this kind will enable countless other communities across the country to play a greater role in local decisions, services and facilities.” 


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