From improving the high street to rural investment, 49 communities are working with Co-operatives UK and its partners to put together their own community economic development plan. The Community Economic Development (CED) programme is providing advice and support to bring communities together to boost their local economy.
The programme is run by Co-operatives UK with the Community Development Foundation, New Economics Foundation, Responsible Finance and Locality. Participating communities are located all over England, from South Shields to Penzance, Carlisle to Great Yarmouth. They applied because they wanted to take control of local economics and change their area.
The communities are looking at a range of bottom-up models including employment and skills, enterprise development, local purchasing, anchor organisation local procurement, social enterprise and investment, high street retail, urban regeneration, food and agriculture. Participating communities are deprived or have pockets of deprivation; they are working in partnership, have been engaging the community and are focused on improving local wellbeing through economic interventions.
Projects include the Portland Works in Little Sheffield, the first factory in the world to make stainless steel cutlery, which was then sold internationally. Today, in pockets of the building, you can still find metal trade micro-businesses using some of the original machinery and tools.
In recent years, in the form of a co-operative and community benefit society, they and others have come together to renovate the building and safeguard its heritage. The aim is to return the works to its original purpose of manufacturing, and to link this with arts and crafts, with an explicit goal of supporting small businesses and benefiting the wider community.
In this urban part of central Sheffield, Portland Works has come together with Regather, a trading co-operative and social action centre, which leads a range of community projects and enterprises in the area. They are working on the CED programme to promote a habitat for local independent enterprises to grow and thrive together, including access to work and training.
In Broughton, Salford, one of the most deprived wards in Greater Manchester, the community co-operative Involved is connecting local shopkeepers and business owners to strengthen the local economy through the programme.
In Selby, North Yorkshire, the focus is on making a step change in the distribution and sales of local food. The Vale of York has fertile land, cooler summers and milder winters, but the food is shipped off for sale elsewhere and only a quarter of local people eat their five a day. Led by Tadcaster and Rural CIC, the hope for the programme is to use a rich, local asset to improve local jobs and health.
Each community is working with an experienced adviser who is guiding them through the process of developing a well-supported, dynamic, deliverable local economic plan. They receive a £5,000 grant and access to specialist technical support on areas as diverse as community enterprise, community financing, engaging new stakeholders and decision-makers within the local economy and acquiring and developing assets.
The programme is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s community rights programme. A full list of participating communities is available online, as is a map of the areas where local people are using community rights. Learning resources being produced as part of the programme are accessible via the programme website.
Communities minister Marcus Jones said: “Local people know what’s already great about the places they live in and how to make them even better, whether that’s through taking control of the local community centre, redesigning services for older people or helping young people into employment.
“Our support programmes will help them to harness their skills and knowledge to tackle a wide range of issues that are important to them and make their areas even better places to live and work.”
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “The community rights programme, designed around the needs of local people, includes the first community economic development support for a generation.
“Co-operatives UK and our delivery partners see this as a unique opportunity to find bootstrap solutions to the economic problems faced by communities across the country.”
In this article
- Business models
- Co-operatives UK
- Community building
- Community development
- Community economic development
- Ed Mayo
- Marcus Jones
- New Economics Foundation
- Regather Works
- Social enterprise
- stainless steel cutlery
- The Co-operative Group
- United Kingdom
- Urban studies and planning
- Marie-Claire Kidd
- United Kingdom
- Top Stories