My New Year’s resolution is to blog more often! 2013 was a busy year where lots of work went in to longer term issues. Here is an update from me on current issues. If anybody would like to chat to me about Plunkett’s policy work which aims to help make it easier to set up and run rural co-operatives, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Year has started with a flurry of consultation deadlines. Across Europe rural development programmes are gradually becoming clearer with the amount being transferred from direct payments to farmers to rural development programmes being agreed. The lowest rate of transfer is 7% (Northern Ireland) and the highest is Wales (15%) with Scotland (9.5%) and England (12%) taking the middle ground. These rates have direct impacts on the level of farm payments and the level of funding available for rural development, including what is being called Community Led Local Development such as LEADER.
In Scotland, time is running out to respond to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill which is looking at ways of strengthening community empowerment. Plunkett will be responding to this and I’d be keen to hear views from any Plunkett members.
In England Local Economic Partnerships have submitted their draft EU Structural and Investment Funds Strategies, documents which outlines European structural funding (including some Rural Development Programme funding) for the period 2014-2020. It is great to see social enterprise being included in the draft strategies of all LEPs and from a Plunkett perspective we’re speaking to LEPs about the potential of social enterprise creating jobs and growth in rural areas while at the same time addressing issues relating to social inclusion.
The Welsh Government has announced a £10m capital fund to support projects to tackle poverty. Good news for the increasing number of rural communities in Wales looking to set up and run community enterprises as a way of addressing rural poverty.
Lastly, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have announced a £10m pot to pilot alternative broadband technologies in order to reach those hardest to reach in remote rural areas of the UK. Community-led broadband will undoubtedly play a significant role in reaching communities that others cannot.
In case you missed announcements from late last year…
Long awaited updated to co-operative legislation in the UK welcomed by Plunkett and the co-operative sector.
Cracking news for communities in England! In December the Big Lottery Fund announced a £150m fund for community led enterprises which will be up and running by the Autumn.
The Government has published its response to the Social Investment Tax Relief consultation that Plunkett responded.