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Community hubs: tools and guidance

Closing date: 11 January 2019


Local Trust and Power to Change are collaborating to commission research and the production of tools and guidance on community hubs that will guide proposed and existing organisations and community groups to plan, implement, manage and develop their hubs to support local community needs and opportunities.

Local Trust is an independent charitable trust that runs the Big Local programme. Big Local is a 15-year Big Lottery funded initiative to support 150 communities in England. Each Big Local area has been awarded £1m to spend over 10-15 years. The work in areas is led by local volunteers, and areas set their own priorities. The Big Local programme is administered by Local Trust, which also provides training, networking, research and support to areas.

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England. Power to Change provides money, advice and support to help local people come together to take control.

The community hubs commission comprises two related pieces of work:

  • a research commission; and
  • a tools and guidance commission.

This invitation to tender (ITT) is for the tools and guidance commission. The ITT for the research commission is available here, and you are encouraged to read it for context for this commission as it will form the basis of much of this work. Applicants are welcome to apply for either or both tenders and must complete separate application forms for each.

The tools and guidance will be based in part on the research outputs and therefore this work will commence after the research has been completed (see timeline, below). As well as producing the guidance and tools, the successful contractor will be responsible for design, print, online publication and dissemination of the outputs.

Background: community hubs

A community hub is a building (or buildings, or part of a buildings) that has a community-led governance structure. It is multi-purpose, open and accessible to the local community and provides services that the local community need. It’s estimated that there are 1,650 community hubs in England. 85 of 150 Big Local areas use a building or hub for their activities (just over half); seven areas have bought a building with Big Local money. Previous reports have identified a number of success factors for community hubs, including financial self-sustainability. There is a need for practical information which gives communities guidance and tools to set up and maintain viable community hubs.

Purpose of tools and guidance commission

The guidance commission comprises two main elements:

  • general guidance on setting up and maintaining viable community hubs; and
  • financial planning tools to help community groups and organisations achieve this end.

Guidance on setting up and maintaining viable community hubs to achieve viability and sustainability

Guidance already exists on developing land and building assets. For example, The Development Trust Association (now Locality) published a comprehensive guide.The My Community website also provides guidance on developing community-led buildings. However, there is a lack of guidance on the range of options available for community hubs, how to develop a viable plan that delivers on their social aims and how to implement the project and make a successful transition to managing a sustainable community hub. The guidance designed and produced as part of this commission should fill this gap. It should also signpost to guidance, advice and support that already exists, including on engaging the community and developing building projects.

The guidance should be accessibly written and easy to navigate. We envisage that it might comprise a suite of different products but with a consistent style and tone. The content and design should work in both web based and paper formats.

While the guidance should be based on the research commissioned, a starting point for thinking about its possible content is also provided in Annex 1. This indicative list of section headings is based on the experience that Local Trust has of supporting community groups and organisations developing community hubs.

Financial planning tools

Financial planning tools for setting up and for running a community hub should also be developed. These should guide the user through the financial implications of the different options for setting up and then for running their hub, enabling the development of a reliable 5-year budget.

The tools should cover a range of scenarios, such as asset transfer, gifted free space, renting, buying and building a community hub. It should ensure that those setting up community hubs properly consider whether they will be able to raise the funds needed to develop and maintain their facility and are aware of the long-term costs of running a building including repairs and renewals.

It is envisaged that three different financial planning tools might be developed to help community groups and organisations:

  1. The first would take them through the process of logging/ estimating all the costs that they might incur in developing a community hub. It would also cover sources and types of finance, funding or other income they would need to raise to cover these costs.
  2. The second would take them through the process of logging/estimating the income from their planned activities as against their expenses running the hub.
  3. The third would help them to plan for sustainability over the longer term by enabling them to think through their capital needs and the net profit required to enable them to meet them (for the renewal of equipment, major works such as roof renewal if their responsibility etc).

Annex 2 provides a list of some of the topics that these tools should cover. As with the guidance, these tools should work online and in paper formats and be easy to complete and navigate.


The guidance and tools produced and designed as part of this commission should be based on:

  • the findings from the research commission (see Annex 3 for details);
  • supplementary research examining existing tools and guidance and their take up, to ensure that what is produced builds on and complements these and is produced and promoted in such a way that maximises their use; and
  • consultation with experts including communities developing community hubs (provision should be made in the budget to pay fees for access to their expertise).

Relationship with the research commission

The tools and guidance commission will be based in part on the findings from the research commission (see tender for research commission for details). This work will therefore commence after the research has started. Applicants are welcome to apply for either or both tenders and must complete separate application forms for each.

Budget and timeline

The budget for the creation and production of tools and guidance, printing, dissemination and publication (online and offline) inclusive of VAT and all expenses, is £30,000. Applicants should specify the budget breakdown for each of these aspects.

The timeline for this work is four and a half months, starting from 1 May 2019 (indicative) to 13 September 2019.

The project will be managed by the research team at Local Trust. An advisory panel will oversee the direction and delivery of both the research commission and the commission for the production of tools and guidance.

Commissioning process

Please include the following information within your proposal, clearly setting out the following using the numbering below:

  1. An overview of you and/or your organisation: charity, company or other reference or registration number; summary annual income and expenditure for the 2018-19 financial year; projected income for 2019-20; membership of trade bodies, kite marks or awards relevant to this contract.
  2. Your understanding of what is needed
  3. A detailed description of how you would approach the work and deliver the project, including proposed outputs of the work
  4. A timeline for the work, indicating when you would plan to deliver different activities. This should include key milestones in the project and deliverables against each of these.
  5. A detailed budget including all costs, expenses and VAT, specifying all day rates, the number of days proposed and cost of particular activities. Applicants should specify the budget breakdown for each of the aspects outlined above.
  6. A proposed plan for disseminating and promoting the tools and guidance to key user groups, including the networks you have access to and how you propose working with us. For the successful contractor, this would need to be developed in consultation with both Local Trust and Power to Change.
  7. Details of the staffing you propose for the work. A description of your organisation/s relevant experience delivering similar work (including development and design of online outputs) and a description of the team’s skills which outlines how you meet the skills requirements, including CVs.
  8. A description of your knowledge and experience of the volunteering and community sector.
  9. Details of how you will project manage the commission and quality assure your work.
  10. The contact details of two previous clients with direct knowledge or experience of your work relevant to the work we require. Please specify how the referees know your work and if they can be contacted by us straightaway.
  11. A statement on how you would ensure compliance with GDPR regulations
  12. Any other relevant information that will assist us in our decision.
  13. Your contact details, including email address and phone number.

Proposals should not exceed 15 pages and fonts should be a minimum of size 12. CVs can be appended and do not count towards the page limit but should not be any longer than two pages each.

Submitting a proposal

Please send your proposal as a PDF document (plus CVs) to: Lisa-Marie Giquel at

Proposals to be submitted by: Friday 11 January 2019 at 10.00am (UK time)

Subject: Please include TENDER: COMMUNITY HUBS TOOLS AND GUIDANCE as the subject line

Following this process, we intend to shortlist a small number of potential contractors to invite for interview between 21 - 22 January 2019.

Any questions relating to this invitation to tender should be emailed to with subject line QUERY: COMMUNITY HUBS TOOLS AND GUIDANCE.

Assessing your proposal

Contracts will be awarded based on the most responsive service provider whose offer is assessed to be the most advantageous in terms of cost, methodology and relevant experience.

We will assess your proposal using the following criteria:

  • Skills, resources and experience to carry out all elements of the work
  • The extent to which the proposal delivers what is needed
  • Evidence of understanding of appropriate ways to work with community groups and volunteers
  • Understanding of who the work is aimed at and the most effective approaches to format, tone, accessibility, in the production of advice and guidance.
  • Value for money (we are not bound to accept the cheapest proposal)


Annex 1: Indicative contents for community hubs guidance

The following is an indicative content list for the guidance produced:

  • Bringing your stakeholders together
  • Researching the possibilities
  • The must have’s, the like to have’s, and the (im)possible dreams
  • Building a team
  • The options: buying, building, renovating, sharing
  • The costs: setting up and running
  • Fundraising and finances
  • Managing and implementing the project
  • Moving in and moving on
  • Planning for the long term

Annex 2: Topics to include in the financial planning tools

This list of topics is not intended to be definitive or exhaustive.

The set-up process:

Gifted free space and asset transfer
The tool should cover estimates of refurbishment costs, fitting out costs, moving costs and start-up costs.

The tool should cover estimates of legal costs, refurbishment costs, fitting out costs, moving costs and start-up costs. It should also help users to understand their lease or licence and in particular, repair and refurbishment responsibilities and costs.

Buying a building
The tool should cover estimates of legal and professional costs, purchase costs, finance costs, repair and refurbishment costs, fitting out costs, moving costs, start-up costs and contingency costs.

Acquiring a site and constructing a new building
The tool should cover estimates of feasibility study costs, legal and professional costs, site acquisition costs, construction costs, fitting out costs, finance costs, VAT, start-up costs and contingency costs.

Running costs:

This should include the following:

  • Staffing
  • Costs of ownership or occupancy
  • Operational costs
  • Services costs including utilities and health and safety
  • Maintenance and renewal costs
  • Insurances
  • Finance costs
  • Other costs

Income generation:

To include:

  • Diversifying income
  • Sources of funding available to community hubs (e.g. grants; earned income (contracts, room hire, long-term leases, trading services ; and in-kind subsidies e.g. community asset transfer).

Existing financial planning tools for social enterprises may be referenced, such as NCVO’s Income Spectrum tool and Jerr Boschee’s portfolio approach.

Annex 3: Research commission questions

The research commission will seek to answer the following question is: ‘How can community hubs be financially viable?’. It will also require a mixture of financial and descriptive analysis to answer the following sub questions.

Financial analysis to answer:

  1. What types of business models are community hubs in England using?
  2. How these business models are being combined in community hubs and what is the impact on their financial viability?
  3. What are the approaches that appear to best support financial viability and resilience and in what contexts?

Context, description and rich data will be obtained through answering the following questions:

4. What barriers to viability have community hubs encountered? How have these been overcome?
5. How do successful social enterprises balance the inherent tension between viability and social aims?
6. How do community hubs move towards achieving long-term sustainability?

The organisations commissioning are interested in conclusions on long-term survival, viability, sustainability, community and service delivery and, if appropriate, growth.

See full details of the research commission and ITT

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