Headlines: October 10th, 2012

A Community Shares Unit has been set up to grow the community shares market and help local people claim a stake and become part owners of local assets and services.

Community shares let local people to take a more active in role in their communities by giving members – as part-owners – a direct say in their success, encouraging them to play an active part in their future. Shares may offer a stake in a community pub, football club or even in the generation of renewable energy. Since 2009, 15,000 people have invested in over 100 community share issues, raising over £15 million.

Most investors buy shares to help achieve a social good, however if the enterprise is successful they may also benefit from dividend payments. Dividends can be paid in money, but also in kind, with cheaper energy, cut-price pints, and local, fairly-priced food as possible incentives.

Backed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and run by Co-operatives UK and Locality – the country’s largest network of community led organisations – the new Community Shares Unit will enable more local enterprises to use share offers as a way of raising finance – in particular risk capital – to purchase buildings or get new projects up and running.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:”We’re seeing 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 is 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.”