Government launches community shares and bonds support service to help investment in local projects

Don Foster, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, says the unit will help social investment and community finance flourish

Don Foster
Don Foster

A support service to help communities take ownership of their resources was launched last week by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Community Shares Unit, which will have a budget of £590,000 over three years, will be run by Co-operatives UK, a trade body that promotes cooperative enterprises, with support from Locality, the network for community-led organisations.

The unit will support the use of community shares and bonds, which allow large numbers of people to invest small amounts of capital in local projects without the costly regulation involved in a standard share issue.

Community share issues have increasingly been used to take over ownership of local resources, such as shops, pubs and sports clubs, as well as to set up green energy projects.

According to previously released statements, the unit will aim to support 500 social ventures and back 200 share issues. It will act as a central resource for social investment intermediaries, government and other stakeholders. It will also collect data and publish best practice.

The unit was launched by Don Foster, parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government, at the Community Development Finance Association’s annual conference on Friday.

"We are shifting control away from Whitehall, handing communities the powers they need to run their own affairs," he said. "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."

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