Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF)
This funding programme provides grants to local communities and economies that are disrupted by the construction of Phase One and Phase 2a of HS2 between London and Crewe.
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High Speed Two (HS2) is a new high speed railway linking up London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland serving over 25 stations, including eight of Britain's 10 largest cities and connecting around 30 million people. For Phase One, the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Act received Royal Assent in early 2017 and the Phase 2a: High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Act received Royal Assent in February 2021. Later stages of Phase Two will extend the route to Manchester, Leeds and beyond but are subject to future Parliamentary approval. In October 2014, Government announced a funding programme to offset the disruption of Phase One of HS2 on local communities and economies – the Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). A combined total of £45 million has now been made available for this fund. Of this figure, £40m is allocated for areas disrupted by the construction of Phase One and £5m is allocated for areas disrupted by Phase 2a. The Phase One Funds were launched at Royal Assent in February 2017 and opened for applications on 8th March 2017. The Phase 2a Funds were launched at Royal Assent in February 2021 and will open for applications on the 1st April 2021.
To be eligible to apply to CEF and BLEF your organisation must be: Formally established for public benefit and is not for profit. For non-statutory bodies, you must have a governing document (e.g. constitution or memorandum and articles of association) which includes appropriate statements on members, Directors or Trustees not benefiting financially from the organisation or its dissolution, a minimum of 3 unrelated people on the committee, this will be unrelated trustees for charities and unrelated directors for companies limited by guarantee, and have your own bank account (which requires 2 signatories). CEF is primarily targeted at the voluntary/community sector including registered charities, constituted community groups, Community Interest Companies (CICs), social enterprises and community businesses. BLEF is primarily targeted at organisations which have formal objectives that support the development of local business/tourism.
The objective of CEF is to add benefit over and above committed mitigation and statutory compensation to communities along the route that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of HS2. There are two types of CEF grant: CEF Local focuses on quality of life and environment in individual communities and CEF Strategic focuses on large projects across several communities and addresses broader rather than purely local concerns. CEF Local will fund smaller projects up to a maximum of £75,000 per project. CEF Strategic will fund larger projects from £75,001 up to £250,000 per project. These grants may fund projects that cross a number of local authority areas.
Initiatives the CEF may support might include: ● Improved pedestrian, equestrian, or cycle access not provided under statutory services; ● Landscape and nature conservation enhancement projects which increase biodiversity;● Enhancement or replacement of sports and recreational facilities; ● Improved access and enhancements to public open space; ● Provision of enhanced or new community facilities; and ● Refurbishment/re-use of historic buildings and monuments.
The objective of BLEF is to add benefit over and above committed mitigation and statutory compensation to support local economies that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of HS2. Applications will be invited for capital or revenue grants from £10,000 up to £250,000. Through this funding, we are looking to fund interventions that will have a positive impact on local economies (this may include a number of small schemes that are brought together in a package of interventions). Grants of between £10,000 and £75,000 will typically be for smaller scale and targeted local interventions. Grants of between £75,001 and £250,000 will be typically be for larger scale interventions. Value for money is considered for all projects and the size of any award will be based on the number of businesses supported by your project and the benefits to businesses your project will deliver.
Initiatives BLEF may support might include:● General promotional activity for local economic benefit such as running ‘open for business’ campaigns or implementing town/village discount cards to retain spend in local areas;● Creating and running events that maintain or increase regular footfall, or promote business activity (for example, summer festivals, farmers markets or Christmas events);● Projects that aim to maintain or increase tourist visits to an area;● Enhancements to public realm around local economic centres or destinations to encourage footfall to the area (for example, for a concentration of independent food retailers, a place of heritage if it is a tourist attraction that benefits the local economy or an area’s night-time economy);● Business support services and training for disrupted businesses, for example providing advice and guidance covering current business development issues.
CEF and BLEF will be open for the duration of the construction period and for the first year of operation of HS2 services. For grants of up to £75,000, applicants should expect to receive our decision approximately 8 weeks after their application is submitted. For grants of between £75,001 and £250,000, applicants should expect to receive our decision approximately 16 weeks after the Stage 1 application and a further 16 weeks after the Stage 2 application is submitted.
How to apply
To find out more information about the CEF and BLEF funding programme, please visit the website - hs2funds.org.uk.
Before you aply please read the guidance and FAQ documents.