What are community shares?
Community shares are a new way of raising investment capital from communities. Local people are encouraged to buy shares in the enterprise and become part-owners. As shareholders they are more likely to do everything they can to ensure the success of the business by becoming loyal customers, volunteers and supporters of the enterprise. Community shares have beenused to finance shops, pubs, community buildings, local food schemes, football clubs and even renewable energy initiatives. Most community shares offers are made by enterprises registered as Industrial and Provident Societies (IPS). This legal form provides limited liability status, just like company law. But unlike companies, shares in societies are non-speculative and democratic. .
What is the Community Shares Unit?
The unit is supported by the Department of Communities and Local Government for three years and will be delivered by the same partnership of Co-operatives UK and Locality. Modelled on the highly successful Asset Transfer Unit within Locality, the new unit will work with partners to develop standards of good practice, while also working with government to encourage policy reforms which support the growth of community shares.
It will also be a central reference point for market intelligence, providing latest information on community share activities nationwide, as well as producing regularly-updated guidance materials.
The unit will also operate as a dynamic hub for support, building relationships with networks and organisations to signpost communities, investors and other interest parties to the most appropriate forms of advice and assistance to develop new share offers and support existing ones.
Finally, it will act as a strong platform for profiling the community share model, raising awareness of the value of the approach to new entrants and facilitating peer support and networking to those already involved in community shares.