Towards an Understanding of the Economies of Neighbourhoods and Communities
Edited by Maarten van Ham, Darja Reuschke, Reinout Kleinhans, Colin Mason and Stephen Syrett
Chapter 11: The contribution of community enterprise to British urban regeneration in a period of state retrenchment
Social enterprise is a hybrid sector lying between the public and private sectors. One part of this broad category is community enterprise where not-for-profit organizations are established to address particular social, economic and environmental priorities. These organizations often operate in defined areas where significant sections of the population experience relative deprivation or social exclusion. This chapter discusses the growth and nature of community enterprises (CEs) and in particular the sub-set of asset-based community development trusts (CDTs), which have evolved in Britain since the 1970s. It begins by discussing the definitions of the CE sector and then explains how urban regeneration policy has evolved in Britain in order to increasingly encourage the transfer of assets and service delivery to third sector bodies. Three models are then used to outline the key dimensions of different CDTs using a number of examples. The conclusions confirm that CDTs are often fully committed to seeking sustainability while operating on the margins of profitability and only the larger, more sustainable CDTs can make a significant contribution to wider regeneration strategies operating at urban or metropolitan levels. But greater flexibility is needed in transferring assets and integrating CEs more closely with broader regeneration strategies. However, major gaps in knowledge of the sector remain particularly in relation to questions of scale and breadth of impact. Overall, CDTs can be seen as part of a response to the neoliberal terrain of austerity and the gradual retrenchment of the public sector at the local level but may offer new opportunities for co-production.
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