Power to Change secures £20m from National Lottery Community Fund

16 Mar 2021 News

Vidhya Alakeson, former chief executive of Power to Change

The community business funder Power to Change has secured £20m from the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) to continue its work.

The cash injection means that the funder will now stay open until at least 2026, having previously announced plans to close next year.

Power to Change funds and supports community businesses, defined as locally-run charities and other enterprises which make a profit, are accountable to other local people, and have a positive social impact on their community.

The organisation also confirmed that around 20 staff will lose their jobs, as it moves its focus away from grant-making towards broader support for community businesses.

Research released today shows that the number of community business in England has doubled over the last six years, to more than 11,000.

Local economies

Vidhya Alakeson, the chief executive of Power to Change, said: “As we move through the recovery, it’s vital that we do everything we can to help these businesses navigate what will be a tricky path so they can remain viable for their communities.”

She added that the NLCF funding would help “strengthen the resilience and capacity of community businesses, so they can help rebuild our local economies and tackle the big challenges and inequalities people are facing right on their doorsteps and that have been exacerbated by the pandemic”.

Power to Change was set up with a £150m grant from NLCF in 2015. Alakeson said last month that, while this allowed her organisation to blend equity with different forms of social investment, “outside of the lottery and government, I don’t see anybody following that path”.

It will publish its long-term business plan in the spring.

Elly De Decker, England director at NLCF, said: “A year of crisis has meant community organisations and businesses in England have faced financial difficulties due to Covid-19.  

“As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we know community businesses are rooted in their local communities and make a big difference to local life and people.”

Community business double since 2015

Data published today showed that the number of community businesses in England has grown from 5,500 in 2015 to 11,300 today.

The research said that Power to Change has invested a total of £86m in community businesses, the majority to organisations in the 30% most deprived areas of England.

It also showed that investment and support from Power to Change helped community businesses raise an additional £19m to maintain local assets for the community.

The chancellor announced new funding in his Budget last week for local groups looking to buy or manage derelict buildings like pubs, libraries and community centres.

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