April 23, 2014
Fact over fiction
One of the arguments frequently advanced by opponents of land reform and of community land ownership in particular, is that the financial case for community ownership doesn’t stack up and that it is wholly reliant on an over generous system of public subsidy. Some fascinating research just published by Community Land Scotland, based on the financial performance of 12 community land owners, illustrates the extent to which these community owners have outperformed the private owners of the past.
The report demonstrates remarkable results showing that community ownership can out-perform the past private ownership of the land in question. Summary can be read here
Among the key results for 12 communities operating in some of Scotland’s most remote areas is:
• Over 300 new or refurbished housing units and house plots delivered
• Owners direct employment up 368% to over 100 jobs
• Business turnover up 254% to over £6 m annually
• Number of private enterprises operating up over 100% with over 100 new enterprises
• Contracts and local staff value to local economy up 434% to £2.5m annually
• 7MW renewable energy capacity installed
• £34m new investment delivered
• £25m further investment already planned
• Value of assets rising to £59M
• Population growth occurring
David Cameron, Chair of Community Land Scotland, said,
“These results are hugely encouraging and demonstrate that community land ownership can economically out-perform the past private ownership of the land in question. Investment is up, jobs numbers are up, housing development is up, business turnover is up, private enterprises numbers are up, and the population trends are very encouraging.
“The study completely destroys a myth that communities can only survive by the supposed largesse of private landowners with deep pockets and shows the further economic potential for rural communities if more community ownership can be delivered.
“Community land owners are not only delivering at their own hand, this study shows that they are also facilitating other community enterprises and private businesses to invest and deliver more jobs too.
“The total value of the assets in community ownership is growing, delivering a positive public investment dividend, supporting further community led investment, and showing the great public value community land ownership can yield.”
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said:
“This report shows the significant economic and social benefits that community ownership has to offer rural Scotland, including local employment, affordable housing, investment in infrastructure and reversing population decline in some of our most remote and fragile communities.
“It demonstrates the immense value of the Scottish Government’s £9 million Scottish Land Fund, which has so far supported 18 community buy-outs across Scotland since 2012. By improving the relationship between our land and people, we can empower rural communities, sparking regeneration and driving renewal to deliver the economic growth and fairer society that the people of Scotland quite rightly expect.
“It is local people who are best-placed to decide on the future of our land, which is why the First Minister announced an ambitious target to place one million acres of land across Scotland into local ownership by 2020.”