ACRE has sent out the following press release in support of village halls.
*Please note the final paragraph and the reference to Local Restriction Support Grants*
Village halls brace themselves for a difficult winter as national lockdown forces closure once again
New restrictions mean that halls will close, except for a limited number of permitted activities
Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has issued information for village halls to help them understand the implications of the new nationwide lockdown restrictions which come into force today. All halls are required to close their doors, but a few uses will still be allowed.
The news is a body blow for the voluntary committees who rose to the challenge of putting in place complicated Covid-19 Secure measures over the summer months with support from ACRE Network members to allow their buildings to safely reopen. Many are worried about the loss of income from hiring out their space to local community groups and businesses.
There are over 10,000 village halls to be found across England. They support a diverse range of community activities from exercise classes to coffee mornings and are routinely hired out for private parties and weddings. Some host community shops and post offices.
In a recent survey undertaken by ACRE, it was found that 60% of village halls provide the only meeting space in the local community. 10,000 individuals too are reliant on the use of village halls to make a living.
Whilst halls are required by law to close, a few activities are still permitted including use for education, childcare and work purposes, providing food and essential retail activities and to host organised support groups offering mutual aid or therapy.
Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Rural Evidence Village Halls Manager said, “We are working tirelessly to provide support and information to help village halls cope with this second national lockdown which has forced them to shut their doors once again. Many of the voluntary committees who manage these buildings will undoubtedly be worried about the future – both in terms of their financial sustainability, but also the welfare of their community. With uncertainty about the duration of the new restrictions, we will be making the case for continued emergency funding to make sure these important community assets weather the storm”.
The charity is encouraging village halls to contact their local ACRE Network member to obtain copies of the information sheet and get further support. Halls are strongly advised to contact their local authority to apply for Local Restriction Support Grants as these will enable them to keep their buildings heated during the winter months and prevent damage to the building.
The Devon Communities Together Covid19 Helpline: 0808 1963390
Community Buildings Advisor, Martin Rich: 07984 001542
Local Restrictions Support Grant
Following the government's announcement of a new national lockdown from 5 November to 2 December, it has been announced that they plan to offer another set of support grants.
The grants will be administered by the District Councils in Devon. The Government has given councils some flexibility in how they apply the grants and we are awaiting the Districts to announce their schemes. Keep in touch with your district council to find when and how applications can be made.
The framework the Government has provided is as follows:
Grants of up to £934 per 28-day period for businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on the date of the commencement of the local restrictions.
Grants of up to £1,400 per 28-day period for businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on the date of the commencement of the local restrictions.
Grants of up to £2,100 per 28-day period for businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above on the date of the commencement of the local restrictions.
Guidance for Charities during the second lockdown
The NCVO has issued guidance for communities. Access the guidance here.