Mayor of London backs new fund to boost capital’s local high streets


Today, community business champions Power to Change and Co-operatives UK, supported by the Mayor of London, launched a new funding pilot designed to boost the capital’s high streets and civic centres, by growing London’s social economy through increasing the number of community businesses.

Boosting Community Business London is providing £150,000 of grant funding to enable community groups to set-up and grow community businesses in their local area. Community businesses are profit generating organisations, run by and trading for the benefit of local people. They are proven to bring resilience, stability and economic benefits to local places and high streets – 56p of every pound spent in a community business stays in the local community.

The pilot is designed to empower local people to establish socially trading business and services that their local communities want and need. It will also help them to take on the sustainable management and ownership of locally important assets by supporting fundraising through community shares.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m committed to doing everything I can to support London’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This new scheme will give community groups the skills to build sustainable businesses, strengthen our high streets and help local areas across our city become more resilient. This is part of wider package of measures funded by my £6.6m Recovery Fund, which will help London meet some of the challenges we face as a result of the pandemic.

“London’s communities are full of innovation and creativity – I look forward to seeing the solutions they create to help the capital emerge even stronger from this incredibly challenging time.”

How it works

There will be a total of £150,000 of grants directly on offer, including:

  • 25 development grants to help London-based organisations set-up or transfer their operations to a community business model. It includes up to 8 days of bespoke business support, mentoring and training worth up to £4,000.
  • 5 established community businesses can apply £10,000 of support and guidance to help them to develop and launch community share offers.
  • Organisations participating in the programme who have developed an accredited share offer may be eligible for up to £100,000 of further equity investment from Power to Change.

Groups taking on heritage assets on high streets could apply for £340K equity match via the Architectural Heritage Fund, allocated up to 31 March 2023.

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change, said: “Just like many towns across the UK, the capital’s high streets have been struggling with an identity crisis for decades resulting in declining footfall. The pandemic has created a seismic shift in our relationship with our local areas, with many people rediscovering, or discovering for the first-time, what’s right on their doorstep. But if we are to harness this renewed interest and return our high streets to the thriving civic centres they once were, we need a very different approach. Community business has a significant role to play. Set-up by local people and trading for the benefit of the community, they bring a localism and distinctiveness to high streets which has been proven to drive stability, resilience and growth. In short, community business has the power to create high streets people are proud to visit.”

Community businesses across London are already providing their local areas with vital services and preserving much loved community assets.

Rose Marley, CEO,  Co-operatives UK, said: “Community businesses like Wolves Lane give decision making power to local people and the profits they generate flow back into the community. At a time when high streets are feeling the impact of the pandemic, community shares provide a democratic way to raise finance, and we’re delighted to help groups across London to get the support they need.”