In partnership with

Resilient Communities Fund Review

June 17, 2024  
In partnership with

How can community business help to deliver on multiple outcomes and priorities, particularly in marginalised and
deprived communities? What support do they need to build resilience against the impact of the climate crisis and the rising cost-of-living?

To find out, we measured the impact of Power to Change’s Resilient Communities Fund – a £1.3m emergency grant funding programme for community businesses.

Executive Summary

The Resilient Communities Fund was a £1.3m grant funding and capacity support programme for community businesses. It was funded by Power to Change and delivered in partnership with the Social Investment Business and the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

It provided emergency support as quickly as possible to community businesses, to support them to implement energy resilience projects to become more resilient to both climate change and the cost-of-living crisis. Power to Change viewed these as intrinsically linked – if you can build resilience against fossil fuels, you are simultaneously building resilience against the cost-of-living crisis. The lack of adequate support available for community businesses meant Power to Change were compelled to step in and deliver critical support for the sector. It was a vital lifeline for many community businesses.

Supporting community businesses is an effective route to achieving broader societal changes

There is evidence from this review of a range of different types of impacts being achieved as a result of RCF support. This ranges from economic and financial focussed impacts, such the survival and safeguarding of businesses, jobs and services, to building financial headroom.

But there is evidence of community and environmental impact too, such as the increased use of services by the community, improvements in energy efficiency, implementing more sustainable practices, and an increase in the capacity, capability and confidence to implement energy efficiency projects in the future.

This review finds that investing in and partnering with community businesses can be an effective and cost-efficient way of delivering on multiple outcomes and priorities, particularly in marginalised and
deprived communities.

The flexibility and simplicity of the Resilient Communities Fund was a critical element of the success of the fund and its impact

The approach of combining targeted, rapid and flexible funding alongside optional capacity support was very well received by community businesses and worked well in practice. It provided flexible funding to community businesses to spend on whatever they deemed most useful to their own business – which ranged from both core costs to funding specific projects (often focussed around energy resilience).

This empowered community businesses, freeing them up from funding restrictions and day-to-day challenges and allowing them to tackle immediate financial pressures and simultaneously plan for longer term resilience. This approach engendered a mature relationship between funder and community businesses, based on flexibility,
understanding and trust, which was a key factor in how the fund has managed to deliver on multiple priorities and impact across a range of themes (financial, economic, community and environment).

Community businesses, particularly those in marginalised areas, are highly susceptible and exposed to climate change

Many were found to have higher than average energy bills given they own and tend to operate out of older, inefficient buildings, combined with an increased
demand for their services which can be energy intensive (eg warm spaces, food banks). Community businesses action on climate change is therefore not separate to resilience – it is a key aspect of building longer term resilience and continuing to provide services to their communities.


The findings of this review result in a series of recommendations for future support programmes:

  • Support community businesses and recognise that supporting them is climate action, given that they are at the forefront. The most marginalised communities are likely to be the most affected by the climate crisis and given community businesses are a cost effective way of supporting outcomes in these communities, it makes sense to support them to do so.
  • Continue to provide flexible financial support to community businesses, alongside optional relevant capacity support. Retain the ethos of flexible, light touch support, empowering community businesses to make their own choices of how to spend funding.
  • Continue to adopt a data led approach to target the most appropriate community businesses, given the priority of the support being provided. Real time data led tracking can help to provide support as quickly as possible to community businesses in the right places.
  • Consider providing technical support and advice for future energy saving initiatives, which is specific to community businesses location and the nature of their activity.
  • Provide the space and format for networking and learning opportunities between community businesses, particularly where they can harness and focus on a common topic or challenge.

June 17, 2024
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