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Government launches new service to grow a sustainable market for 'community shares'
A new service for the growing number of communities wanting to raise finance for co-operative and community-owned enterprises has been launched by the Minister for Communities and Local Government, Don Foster.
For residents wanting to save their local pub, fans aiming to take ownership of their football club or local people intending to produce their own renewable energy together, community share offers are proving a vital lifeline for communities across the country.
Registrations of such enterprises have tripled over recent years, with increasing numbers raising capital through 'community share' offers, where money is invested co-operatively by local people as members in local enterprises.
Since 2009, according to new figures also released today, fifteen thousand people have invested in over 100 community share issues, raising over £15 million. The leading community share offers include energy co-operatives, football clubs and local pubs.
Dividends are paid in money, but also in kind, with cheaper energy, cut-price pints, and local, fairly-priced food. As well as providing a financial return to local people, community shares engage people to take a more active in role in their communities.
Communities and Local Government Minister Don Foster launched the Community Shares Unit as part of his keynote address at the Community Development Finance Association annual conference today. The government-backed service is run by Co-operatives UK and Locality, and is now open for business.
Don Foster said; “We are shifting control away from Whitehall, handing communities the powers they need to run their own affairs.
"Across the country, communities are showing they have the ambition and determination to secure ownership of important local assets and get new projects off the ground.
"We want to create the conditions in which social investment and community finance can flourish to make this happen. This new unit will give them the helping hand they need to take full advantage of the opportunity to do things their way, in the best interests of their area."
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: “With the banking sector in a state of turmoil, we’ve seen more and more communities taking things into their own hands. They are investing co-operatively in local enterprises themselves, whether that’s football or farming, retail or renewables.”
Hugh Rolo, Director of Innovation at Locality, added: “We are delighted that the Department for Communities and Local Government are supporting one of the fastest growing areas of social investment. Community shares generate the right kind of finance and act as a powerful lever to access other funding, allowing communities to develop fully sustainable enterprises.”
Interested parties are encouraged to visit the website www.communityshares.org.uk to find out more and get in contact with the service.