West Berkshire Council voted last night (30 April) to approve the UK’s first Community Municipal Investment.
The council will be offering residents and community groups an opportunity to invest directly with them to help build a greener future for the district.
Individuals both in and outside of West Berkshire will be able to invest from as little as £5 to support specific projects that align with the council’s declaration of a climate Emergency in July 2019 and its Environment Strategy.
These will include projects such as installing rooftop solar panels on a building at Greenham Common and on local schools.
In return for supporting the council’s aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, investors will receive a long term, low risk return.
A Community Municipal Investment (CMI) is a bond or loan mechanism issued by a Council directly to the public. It will be provided in partnership with the online crowdfunding platform Abundance Investment, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
CMIs can be used to supplement, diversify or replace sources of borrowing to fund specific infrastructure projects, or to refinance existing debt.
Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Finance, said: “The Community Municipal Investment is a unique way to invest in West Berkshire. It puts residents’ money to work where it will make a positive contribution toward our target to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“Communities investing directly with us will provide us with a cheaper alternative to conventional sources of funds and reduce the overall cost of borrowing to all taxpayers across the district.”
Steve Ardagh-Walter, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for the Environment said: “This scheme has great potential and will enable the Council to take on additional green projects and enable us to move towards carbon neutrality sooner. This is a priority for each and every one of us.”
Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment, said: “It is great to see West Berkshire leading by example to their citizens and to other local authorities. Local councils are well placed to lead not only recovery from the current crisis, but also the coming need to deliver a Net Zero future and build our resilience against climate change.
“By launching this pioneering investment product West Berkshire is helping to ensure that the first pounds invested in the economic recovery will be green ones.”
The Council hope to launch the scheme to investors in the coming weeks after social distancing restrictions are relaxed.