The term community shares was coined by the Development Trust Association (DTA) (now known as Locality) in its 2008 publication Community Share and Bond Issues, which examined how a growing number of community enterprises were raising investment capital from their local supporters. In the same year, Co-operatives UK published a document called Community Investment: using industrial and provident society legislation, addressing the same phenomenon, but focusing exclusively on societies. (The Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 saw the removal of the term industrial and provident society from legislation.) It identified 39 societies that had each raised more than £10,000 in share capital through public share offers since the early 1990s, at the rate of about four new initiatives per year. Towards the end of 2008 the DTA and Co-operatives UK came together to establish the Community Shares programme, an action research partnership funded by the Cabinet Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The programme ran from 2009 to 2011. Over 70 new societies registered during this period have now successfully completed a community share offer.
The Community Shares Unit was launched in October 2012. It continues as a joint initiative between Locality and Co-operatives UK, with funding from DCLG. Since 2009 over 700 new societies with the scope to issue community shares have been registered, and more than 300 community share offers have been successfully completed. In total, more than £60m of share capital has been raised from over 60,000 investors.
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