Press release

First community economic development programme for a generation gets underway

Rachel Martin and Maria McEwen from Pop up Penzance, one of the 50 communities involved in the programme

From high streets to rural investment, 50 communities have signed up to a new programme to put together their own community economic development plan.

The programme will provide advice and support to bring their community together and develop a plan to boost the local economy.

The participating communities are located all over England, from South Shields to Penzance, Carlisle to Great Yarmouth. All of the communities applied to take part due to a desire to take control of their local economics and see real economic change in their local area.

Pop-up Penzance in Cornwall is piloting youth markets to support entrepreneurial young people to gain experience, develop their skills and grow businesses.

In London, a group led by Bemerton Tenant Management Organisation is working on a project to revitalise part of the Caledonian Road.

Brampton and Beyond Community Trust in Cumbria, meanwhile, is working with local businesses across a large rural area in England’s northwest to create jobs, develop new businesses and increase inward investment.

The programme is being run by Co-operatives UK alongside partners the Community Development Foundation, New Economics Foundation, the Community Development Finance Association and Locality.

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."

The programme is supported by the department for Communities and Local Government. The 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.”

Ultimately, the new programme will help the communities to develop their own community economic development plans. Each of the communities is working with an experienced adviser who is guiding the communities through the process of developing a well-supported, dynamic and deliverable local economic plan – with the support of a grant of £5,000 and access to specialist technical support on areas as diverse as community enterprise, community financing options, 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. Click here for more details on the programme and here for a map of all the areas where local people are using rights to take ownership of their area.