Here is a roundup of Plunkett’s policy work and issues of interest over the last month. Happy reading.
As a reminder, Plunkett is holding its annual community enterprise networking event and AGM on 1st July in Oxford. It’s a great day packed full of inspiring speakers and fantastic breakout sessions. We’d love to see you there so we’ve kept the prices as low as possible.
Launch of Growing Livelihoods pilot
We were delighted to launch the Growing Livelihoods pilot scheme this week as part of an event we ran with the Carnegie UK Trust and the LSA Charitable Trust in Cloughjordan, Ireland. The challenge of attracting new entrants to farming is not a new one but we find that the same solutions keep getting put forward and little changes. Many have forgotten about the importance of the first run on the farming ladder, the starter farm. The Land Settlement Association blazed a trail for this beginning in 1934 followed soon after by county council farms. On plots of 5 to 10 acres, families were able to earn a decent livelihood by working co-operatively. They shared tools, machinery and labour and had access to shared facilities like pack houses, propagation, crop planning and marketing of produce. It was successful too, running for over 50 years and consistently providing LSAers with incomes higher than others in farming. Perhaps it is time to look again at this approach?
The event was held at the Cloughjordan eco-village, an inspiring place that blazed a train for sustainable living and co-operative communities. Find out more, or better still make a visit.
Power to Change
Really important momentum is building with community businesses in England as approaches become increasingly adopted across a range of different issues and as communities increasingly look toward their ‘community rights’.
Power to Change will play an important role in this. The Big Lottery Fund has awarded the contract to support and inspire community businesses ahead of the planned £150m ‘Power to Change’ fund to Locality, the Plunkett Foundation and UnLtd. More information will follow soon but you can read a little more here.
Important time for communities and co-operatives in Scotland
Plunkett and our partners the Development Trust Association Scotland, the Community Shares Unit and Rocket Science launched Community Shares Scotland this month. Backed by the Big Lottery Fund and the Carnegie UK Trust, communities turning towards community shares to raise capital will have access to some great resources and support.
Two important documents have been published this month. The first is the Land Reform Review Group’s final report. The report sets out 60 recommendations, including a Scottish Land and Property Commission with responsibility for understanding and monitoring the system governing the ownership and management of Scotland’s land, and recommending changes in the public interest. Talking about the report at the Community Land Scotland report, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse MSP said, “Community ownership also delivers outcomes that can neither be delivered by private ownership nor by government.” It’s not the first, nor the last time, this has been said.
The second is the publication of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill which has been developed to extend and improve the powers that communities have. We’ll be getting involved in discussions over coming months.
Inquiry into the community rights
The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an investigation into the community rights in England. If you have experienced the community rights and found they helped your community or found they fell short in places, now is the time to make your voice heard. Plunkett will be submitting a response and so we are keen to hear from members. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governments and co-operatives
There is a long history of interference in co-operative movement by governments internationally. Draft proposals under consideration by the Japanese government could lead to the dismantling of the Japanese agricultural co-operative sector that supports the vast majority of farmers in Japan. The mean average farm size is very small in Japan (0.4 hectares) so co-operatives provide a lifeline for these farmers. I had the privilege of seeing the JA Group in action in a visit to Japan in 2012 so sincerely hope these proposals are withdrawn.
The International Co-operative Alliance has created an international team to assist. Read more here.
I hope you have a good month ahead.