August 28, 2019
Finance for community land movement
It could be argued that the community land movement punches well above its weight. It has a public profile that belies the fact that just 3% of Scotland’s land is under the collective ownership of local people. Although the policy landscape is becoming ever more conducive for communities to consider the option of ownership, many barriers remain in place. One of which is the vexed question of how communities can access sufficient finance. The Scottish Land Fund is the obvious first port of call but there are others. Useful research into this area published by Scottish Land Commission.
This report was commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) to scope the range of funding models available to, and being used by, community landowning groups. The research is informed by the desire of the Scottish Government to make community landownership a normal option for communities across Scotland. Funding can be a barrier to achieving this goal and in an environment of limited public funding there is a need to consider alternative options.
The overall objective of this study was to scope the range of potential funding models that may be available to support community acquisition and development of land and building assets. In particular, the study was intended to inform the range of options available beyond direct government funding. The study was also intended to consider whether there are international examples of different ‘public interest’ finance models that could be applied to this context.
The study was conducted in the context of a rapidly growing community ownership sector, which is being promoted by Government policy through a combination of legislation and funding. The Scottish Land Fund is now in its third iteration with an annual budget of £10m per year for the period 2016-21. The Scottish Government reported that 403 groups owned 492 parcels of land totalling 562,230 acres in June 2017.