Five ‘practical learning guides’ have been developed to share learning emerging from community energy innovation projects. These should be useful to community energy groups considering new approaches and also to other community businesses considering action on energy and climate issues.
This working paper was produced as part of an evaluation and learning review of Power to Change’s Community Business Fund, led by Renaisi. This paper takes some of the learning from the evaluation of the Community Business Fund, and other work, and applies it to wider questions about community businesses, the places that they exist in and how those two things interact.
Power to Change commissioned a team from the University of Westminster, Delft University of Technology and Stockholm University to carry out a comparative study of community-based social enterprise (CBSE) in England, the Netherlands and Sweden. National policy was reviewed and three case studies were selected from each country, in order to provide an evidence base for making comparisons and drawing out more general conclusions about the development of the sector.
A common feature across community businesses in different sectors is for their business model to be heavily reliant on and/or driven by Community Asset Transfers (CATs). A CAT is the transfer of the ownership and/or management of an asset from its public-sector owner (usually a local authority) to a community organisation for less than market value. These transfers are made in order to achieve social, economic or environmental outcomes in the community in which the asset is located.
At the end of 2016, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist warned that regional inequality was ‘among the most important issues that we face today as a country’. Then as now, local economies in different parts of the UK were growing at an uneven rate, and some were simply not growing at all. Can hyper-local, socially-responsible businesses help the economic performance of the place where they are based? As part of this work, this paper specifically asks which factors are associated with growth in the sort of start-up, entrepreneurial businesses which can power a local economy.