The Importance Of Community Shares – Reopening The Debate . . .

Community Shares Ready programme delivered in NI by Co-operative Alternatives from 2013-2018.

Still the only UK region without a Government supported Community Shares programme, we find the policy paper written by our colleague James Wright in Co-operatives UK, of great relevance and it makes us re-open the debate on the importance of community shares.

The UK government has recently announced the new £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help ensure that communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them. The fund will open before summer 2021 and communities from Northern Ireland will be able to bid up to £250,000 of match funding they have raised for asset-based projects.

In the policy paper, James Wright makes a strong case for the use and benefits of community shares both as a mean to create ownership and participation.

In the past, we fully agreed with Minister Hargey when she wrote on her platform piece in February 2021:

‘Traditional economic development and the financial constraints we operate in are failing to meet the economic challenges many of our communities face.  We need to develop a new and ambitious model that gives economic control to local people with collective ownership.’[1]

It is now the time to revisit how we can make ‘community shares’ an integral part of the development of community assets in Northern Ireland and fully explore the capacity that a programme of support for community shares would have on the wealth of our communities.


[1]Platform Piece: Minister determined to tackle ‘open wound’ of poverty. | Department for Communities (



Read the policy paper here: