Big Society Benefits for Communities

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Communities concerned about losing services due to public funding cuts can, with some imagination and the right advice, take control of government-owned assets.

Just as businesses should consider restructuring as an opportunity to emerge healthier, communities can also use restructuring to create better community-owned organisations.

Your community, your future

David Cameron’s Big Society idea is empowering people to take control of the assets that are important to their community – giving them control, if they choose to take it.

This type of restructure is about the imaginative use of resources, getting people together and executing a project to safeguard facilities and services in communities. In a similar way to how schools are becoming academies, standing alone outside of local authority control, the Government is also enabling communities to take control of local assets.

Deerness Gymnastics Academy was created when Durham County Council decided to close the leisure centre. The gymnastics academy which had used the facilities decided to take ownership of the infrastructure. It used powers under the Localism Act, which enables communities to purchase government-owned assets. The building is now used just for gymnastics, with many children attending the academy, safeguarding a valuable community resource.

Take control before closure

The most successful social enterprises are run commercially.  To do that, it’s best for communities to take the lead, to think about facilities in their local area and consider how to protect, revive or change them. If the asset shuts down because funding reduces, it’s much harder to re-start it than if they take control before closure.

Anyone setting up a social enterprise must have the right structures and processes in place from the outset. Often things are organised in a sporadic way, which isn’t the best approach. With the right guidance, people can take control and safeguard assets important to them, reinvigorating communities.

Get the right advice, at the right time

We can help communities explore possibilities, with advice on the legal structures needed to create Community Interest Companies, a company limited by guarantee, Industrial and Provident Societies or charities. We provide advice about the formalities of compliance for the Charity Commission – as well as insight into accessing funding.

For more information, help or advice please contact Andrew Cawkwell on 0191 211 7927.