£3 million boost for local people wanting to take business into community hands

Local groups needing an extra boost to set up or grow a community business can access support and match funding to launch their share offer, thanks to the Community Shares Booster programme, which reopens today.

Community shares is a popular approach to raising finance, in which local people invest often small sums of money and become co-owners of vital local enterprises – from affordable housing to community pubs to green energy.

A new £3 million injection into the programme will support groups in England seeking to launch community shares offers, potentially boost their investment raise and provide ongoing support following their offer. The first development grants and equity investments will be awarded from early 2018 as part of this five-year programme, delivered by the Community Shares Unit, a joint initiative between Co-operatives UK and Locality, and funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England.

Successful applicants could receive a business development support grant up to £10,000 in advance of launching their community share offer. After that, their organisation could have access to up to £100,000 match funding when the share offer goes live. Match funding will be in the form of equity held on equal terms with other community shareholders.

The original £1 million Community Shares Booster Programme Pilot, which began in 2016, supported 15 community businesses. Local people were able to restore a grade 2 listed Victorian ballroom in Manchester, build a new green-build straw-bale roundhouse in South Derbyshire, expand a community farm in London, build community-developed homes in Leeds, and save a 122 year old railway pier for community use in Suffolk.

 

Simon Borkin, Programme Lead at Co-operatives UK, said: “We believe the community shares market still has the potential for further growth and the Booster programme will provide a welcome stimulus to community businesses considering raising this form of socially-aligned and patient finance. We have already invested alongside as many as 3,000 investors and look forward to supporting many more offers through this scheme.”

Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality: “Community Shares harness the power and spirit of enterprise in communities – showing the power of community action to financially support great ideas and inspirational projects. We welcome this new investment to boost community shares so that more people can come together to develop new projects, benefit local economies and thriving communities.”

Ged Devlin, Programme Manager at Power to Change added: “Around a third of Community Shares Booster awards to date have been made to groups located in the 10% most deprived communities as identified by the Index of Multiple Deprivation and we are confident the programme has engaged groups which, but for this support, would not have considered issuing a share offer. We are looking forward to supporting more disadvantaged groups and help put businesses into community ownership.”

To date, the programme has supported 15 community businesses, awarding over £100,000 in development grants allowing them to develop their share offer, as well as investing over £600,000 in 11 community businesses as matched equity investments, releasing as much as £1.5 million into the community business market.

Groups can apply to the programme now at www.communitysharesbooster.org.uk and also sign up to a FAQs webinar on Wednesday 13 December 2017

How a community share offer can boost your business

Notes to editors

Contact for interviews or more information Lisa Mangan lisam@powertochange.org.uk 07951 602 846

The Community Shares Unit (“CSU”) is a joint initiative between Locality and Co-operatives UK, which since 2012 has had an overriding objective to grow a sustainable market and ensure the long-term success of the use of community shares to raise equity finance and participation, with due process and protection for investors, in a range of community and co-operative enterprises. Unlike other shares, community shares operate on a one member one vote system rather than number of shares. Members have the right to vote, and have an equal say in the direction of the business.

About Co-operatives UK

Co-operatives UK is the national body that campaigns for co operation and works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises. We work to promote the co-operative alternative across many sectors of the economy from high street consumer-owned co-operatives to pubs and football clubs, healthcare to agriculture, credit unions to community owned shops.

About Locality

Locality is the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations, working together to help neighbourhoods thrive. They have over 500 members around the country, using assets and enterprise to develop their communities. Our members are community anchor organisations – independent community-led organisations operating in a local area. They are firmly rooted in a sense of place, and committed to positive economic, social or environmental change.

About Power to Change

Power to Change is an independent trust, whose funding is used to strengthen community businesses across England. At a time when many parts of the UK face cuts, neglect and social problems, we are helping local people come together to take control, and make sure their local areas survive and stay vibrant. Our endowment comes from the Big Lottery Fund.

About community businesses

Community businesses are organisations rooted in a local area, run by and answerable to members of the community, and which make a trading profit to re-invest in doing more social good. There are already 7,000 community businesses in England, doing everything from planning new affordable homes to reviving struggling local pubs.

About Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. – Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Every year we fund 13,000 small local projects tackling big social problems like poor mental health and homelessness. – Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.