New £5million to help community business navigate pandemic


Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England, is launching a new £5 million package of support to enable community businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis to adapt, renew and rebuild their businesses so they can remain financially viable and best serve their local communities during the pandemic’s ‘new normal’.

The Community Business Renewal scheme has been designed by Power to Change based on evidence and input from partners and community businesses themselves. It aims to support community businesses in a variety of ways and working with partners it will include:

  • A new fund offering unrestricted grants supporting resilience, renewal and restructure of community businesses
  • Capacity strengthening support to help community businesses increase knowledge, resilience and equip themselves to 're-boot' successfully
  • Two match-funding programmes to support community businesses with different types of fundraising 
  • Tailored support to help community businesses protect community assets
  • A programme of work highlighting the role community business can play in the economic recovery

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change, said: “As the country continues to adjust to a constantly shifting ‘new normal’, we know there are tough times ahead. In order to survive community businesses need to adapt and build long-term resilience. Community Business Renewal will help communities take the steps they need now to put them in the best possible position to weather future uncertainty, so they are able to continue serving their communities for years to come.”

Building on emergency response

This new £5million package is the second part of Power to Change’s £12million response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In April 2020, the trust announced rapid emergency funding to support community businesses during lockdown.

The money was available previous Power to Change grantees as well as to members of Power to Change’s strategic partners – Co-operatives UK, Locality and the Plunkett Foundation – all of whom played a key role in designing this response.

There was very high demand and Power to Change awarded more than 356 grants totalling £6.75million to community businesses in England. 

Without this emergency funding many community businesses would not have survived lockdown. The funding enabled many community businesses to carry on trading and diversify during lockdown, providing essential support in their communities - in some cases stepping in to support local authorities to deliver services, particularly health and social care.

The money enabled community businesses to deal with immediate cash flow issues as a result of paused operations. 54 per cent of grantees used a portion of the money to pay staff salaries, whilst 18 per cent used some of the money to adapt buildings so they could reopen and carry on trading.