Finance News: Co-op funding boosts community initiatives

Maria Clegg

A £1m investment by the Co-operative Bank has helped a community co-operative in north Wales to buy a mountain in order to develop local small businesses and safeguard wildlife and its habitat.

The investment is one of four deals the Co-op Bank has done to assist community groups and small businesses in Britain's most economically and socially disadvantaged areas.

The bank has also invested £1m in Charity Bank; £300,000 in the Community Loan Fund for the North West, and £150,000 in Bolton Business Ventures.

The total amount of nearly £2.5m has been invested under the Government's Community Investment Tax Relief scheme. This encourages investment in disadvantaged communities by giving tax breaks to investors who back businesses in deprived areas through Government-accredited Community Development Finance Institutions.

Under the scheme, such institutions can offer tax relief of 5 per cent to investors over five years. They in turn use the money received from investors to support enterprises that find it hard to raise finance from traditional lending sources.

"We aim to promote the development of organisations that share our values," said David Dickman, head of co-operative and sector development for the Co-operative Bank. "This underlines our continued commitment to community initiatives that often find it hard to attract mainstream investment."

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