Support for grassroots change

The Director of the Development Trusts Association, Steve Wyler, said social enterprise had the capacity to make a difference in communities at a grassroots level, with local people...

He warned there was a danger during the recession that not only would communities suffer economically, but that they could become socially fragmented and demoralised.

 

He said local people should not rely on others to improve their situations, adding that, “even in difficult circumstances, people can achieve remarkable results”.

He argued that there was no better time for social enterprise to come to the fore: “We know about operating in market failure. We offer local solutions when markets fail and now is the time to do it.”

He said community asset ownership was central to successful regeneration. Looking back to the dark days of the 1930s, Mr Wyler said that one of the ways people reacted was to take land into social ownership, setting up food co-operatives and developing allotments. And he said government helped with ‘benefit disregard’, allowing unemployed people to undertake community work without having their benefits affected. “I hope to see some of that spirit rekindled,” he said, calling for a Community Allowance for the unemployed.

Mr Wyler extolled the virtues of community shares — an issue being worked on by the DTA in partnership with Co-operatives UK — arguing that they can “lift a whole community, stimulate economic activity and improve the stewardship of local resources”.

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