Posts Tagged ‘co-operatives’
The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the Welsh Governments proposals for the Rural Development Plan (RDP) 2014 to 2020. We particularly welcome the focus on the role locally-led social enterprises can play in securing local basic services. Locally-led social enterprises delivering local basic services bring added-value benefits. They help to increase community spirit and build community identity as they bring people together to work towards shared aims. They also produce local solutions to local problems and needs by providing services designed and delivered locally. Furthermore, they have a measurable economic benefit. They provide jobs, training and stimulate the local economy. For example, Deudraeth Cyf works with unemployed people, disabled people and housing associations amongst others. They offer a variety of IT courses in Penrhyndeudraeth and in other locations in Gwynedd. Community-based social enterprises have also been established to take ownership of under-threat key services, such as Llanmadoc Siop y Bobl in Gower. You can read more about community-led co-operatives in our report ‘Community Co-operatives in Wales – Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’.
While the RDP proposals recognise the role of local social enterprises delivering and securing local services, it falls short of recognising their full potential for jobs and growth. The Wales Co-operative Centre would welcome greater emphasis on the ability of social enterprises to make a significant impact to the Welsh rural economy through jobs and growth. Social enterprise is a way of doing business that delivers sustainable economic growth while fostering positive social change and innovation. Social enterprises are anchored in their communities and any investment in social enterprises stays in the community and is recycled for wider economic and social benefits. While they often operate in hard to reach, economically challenged communities they employ more people relative to turnover than other businesses.
Egni Co-operative was established by Awel Aman Tawe, a community renewable energy charity in South Wales, with the purpose of placing Solar PV panels on community buildings. To raise the necessary funds, Egni launched a share offer in the Senedd on February 6th which has raised £55,000 since its launch. The share offer runs until April 3rd.
In this guest blog, Dan McCallum from Egni explains more:
“At Awel Aman Tawe we work to raise awareness of clean, renewable, sustainable energy sources, and promote their use throughout the local community.
It’s the sort of project we all want to see – solar panels on key local community buildings. We surveyed about 35 buildings in total and chose the best ones for the project. There are 7 community buildings making up the project, and we’re seeking to fund the capital costs from a co-operative share offer.
Some of these buildings are well known social enterprises. Dove Workshop in Banwen and Glynneath Training Centre both offer training, community cafes, a crèche and a local hub. Perhaps less well known is Brynaman Public Hall and Institute – funded by the miners in the 1920s, run by volunteers, and now housing the largest cinema screen in Wales, alongside the most fantastic Art Deco interior.
All the buildings will benefit from free electricity from the panels, which will also save more than 1000 tonnes of CO2 over the project lifetime.
So why have we formed as a co-operative? There are several reasons. There has been a great increase in energy co-ops in England and Scotland which we’ve been able to learn from. That has been because public grants cannot pay for panels as it would disqualify the scheme from the Feed-in Tariff(FiT) . Co-operatives which raise money from the general public can benefit from the FiT, as the money generated from them comes back into the co-operative for the benefit of the members.
Setting up as a co-operative also means Egni will be run on a one member, one vote basis, This gives everyone who invests in the project an equal say in how it is managed, no matter how much they initially put in. Also, co-operatives, unlike charities, were able to pre-register for the FiT and have the rate maintained for a year. Egni took advantage of this by registering all the sites in June 2013 which means that we can take advantage of the higher rates that were available at that time.
We also want people in Wales to make more use of Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. More details can be found on the HMRC website http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/seedeis. Last week, we had the great news that our application for pre-registration for SEIS has been approved by HMRC. Tax relief is not just for the wealthy – it is likely to apply to many share applicants who are taxpayers. In short, your investment may significantly reduce your income tax bill. Here’s how it can work:
In this example, Jenny is a qualifying taxpayer who invests £1,000 in SEIS qualifying shares. The SEIS relief available is £500 (£1,000 at 50%). If her income tax liability for the year (before SEIS relief) was, for example, £4,000, she could reduce it to £3,500 as a result of her investment.
This is your chance to invest in something Welsh, sustainable and democratic. Egni is about bringing local communities together, to invest in green technology that will bring great benefits to those communities for years to come. If you’d like to play a part in that, then you can download our Share Offer Document and application form at http://egni.coop/join-egni-coop/documents/“
Dan McCallum, Director of Egni Cydweithredol Cyfyngedig Ltd
Egni is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority as an Industrial and Provident Society, Registration Number 32008R.
For more information on Egni, visit www.egni.coop, or phone 01639 830870.