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Policy success: Amendments to Scottish Community Empowerment Bill secured

Policy campaign

9th February 2016
Last updated
9th November 2020
Policy issue
Dunbar Bakery

Power to the people

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill aims to give local communities powers to take control of vital local assets. After campaigning alongside our partners and members in Scotland, amendments have been made to the Bill that enable communities to use the co-operative model, in the form of a community benefit society (Bencom), to take ownership and control of local assets.

This model is already in use across Scotland - and the UK more widely - where thousands of people are saving vital assets or starting new ventures through community share schemes, by pooling their resources and collectively running new community enterprises.

In addition to the inclusion of the co-operative model, a substantial amendment was accepted that extends the community right-to-buy to include football clubs playing in the four divisions of the Scottish Premiership Football League. This benefits fan owned Supporters’ Trusts, most of which use the Bencom model to ensure they have a stake in their club.

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The Bill is intended to give people more influence in their community and have a greater degree of control over how their community develops. It was clearly an oversight that there was no mention of the co-operative model in there, and the amendments now made ensure that people can make the most of vital opportunities for innovations in democratic investment and ownership.
– James Wright, Policy Officer, Co-operatives UK

The Community Empowerment Bill covers a wide range of areas, from asset transfer to land reform and includes matters such as community asset transfers and right-to-buy as well as crofting, forestry and allotments issues. It provides a boost to communities wishing to use community shares to help fund a range of activities covered by the Bill. It is hoped that a wider range of financing options will lead to an increase in the viability of asset transfers and right-to-buy opportunities.

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