The Government see great potential in the use of crowdfunding as a means of engaging communities and providing alternative access to finance for community-led enterprises. My Department established the community shares unit in October 2012, with £640,000 of funding. Since then, communities have raised over £50 million from 141 share offer launches.
Is the Minister aware that, because there is such an unfair funding formula, councils such as Kirklees have been cut to the bone and many of the services we have grown to expect to be provided by the council will now have to be provided in other ways? Will he do even more to help the social enterprise sector to provide those services that many of us think should still be delivered by local councils?
The hon. Gentleman and I have agreed on many things over the years, and I share his enthusiasm for social enterprise. I think it should be a growing part of the economy. I also share his enthusiasm for crowdfunding. I held a round-table in the Department to look at how we can encourage more communities to use crowdfunding, and I think it has enormous potential, in particular to replace the system whereby the Department or local authorities give grants for community groups but do not require them to raise money for themselves. That is something I am trying to alter, and I think it will lead to real community empowerment.