THE Co-operative Bank is taking up the Government's challenge to encourage investment in the UK's highest areas of deprivation.
Two Welsh businesses will be among the first to benefit from a £ 1 million Co-operative Bank investment designed to combat financial exclusion under the Government's new community investment tax relief scheme.
At the end of last month, the Government announced the accreditation of 11 Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) for its new Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR) initiative. At the beginning of April several Welsh communities reaped the benefits.
ICOF (Industrial Common Ownership Finance) was the UK's first CDFI and is one of those accredited. Following the £ 1m investment from the bank, it can now support people from three North Wales villages ? Tregarth, Rhiwlas and Mynydd Llandegai ? who have formed a community co-operative to buy a mountain, preserving the plant and animal life and develop small business opportunities.
The Moelyci Environment Centre will help promote local regeneration through co-operative activities and community education and be a seedbed for independent co-operative businesses. The emphasis will be on recycling, waste management, organic farming and woodland management
The other Welsh business to benefit from CITR is a successful family-owned South West Wales firm, which is being bought out by its four employees. The owner, who founded the catering equipment firm over 30 years ago, wanted to transfer ownership to the workforce rather than see the assets and client base stripped by competitors.
The new co-operative, known as Science Workshops, will continue to sell, hire, install and service equipment used in the catering trade. It is based in Manordeilo, in Carmarthenshire, a rural area with very little industry and few job .
The bank's Chief Executive Mervyn Pedelty (above) said: "We are delighted that ICOF has been accredited as a CDFI and I am sure the new tax relief scheme will give a boost to social, economic and physical renewal.
"ICOF and the Co-operative Bank are confident that with this new initiative they can work closer together to give economically disadvantaged areas a solid base on which to rebuild thriving communities."