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Somerset Co-operative Community Land Trust

Social performance

Somerset Co-operative CLT is raising investment to provide affordable housing and work units in Taunton and Wiveliscombe, Somerset.

Somerset CLT's mission is “to provide sustainable affordable housing; and to provide workspace for community enterprises in Somerset; promoting co-operative principles and equality of opportunity for the benefit of the community.”

This is a share issue to provide new affordable rental accomodation in central Taunton, and to acquire and develop a further site in Wiveliscombe. These properties will be held in perpetuity and employed for the benefit of the community in Taunton & Wiveliscombe, and will enable SCCLT to go on to benefit communities elsewhere in Somerset as well. Its model of a CLT anchoring the local social economy, and empowering tenants through cooperative management, is intended to be replicable anywhere in the UK.

Key Social Performance Indicators (KSPIs)

KSPIs are a measure of how the business is performing on delivering its main social or environmental purpose. Read more

KSPI 1 - Permanently affordable housing

SCCLT was formed principally to address a crisis in housing. In January 2020 Homefinder reported that the number of households registered with Homefinder Somerset increased by 21% since Q4 2016/17 (Homefinder Somerset, 2020). According to the Strategic Market Assessment (2016, p.145), in Somerset around 63.7% can afford a private rent, suggesting that the need for affordable housing is around 36.3%. Shelter describe private rented housing in Taunton Deane as 'fairly unaffordable', requiring more than a third of income (source: Shelter 2011).

Across Somerset, an income of around £33,300 would be needed to buy a lower quartile property. And the income to access a rented home would be around £21,000 in the private rented sector.  Therefore, around 24% of households in Somerset have an income that would be insufficient to afford social rent without some form of subsidy (Somerset Strategic Housing Market Assessment, 2016, p. 147). SCCLT have found that supply of new social rental housing that is compact and affordable but has added collective benefits, is both a valuable service to provide to the community and a viable business model.

Taunton is the present focus of the Society's activity, and in particular the eastern side of the town where deprivation is most acute (the Halcon area, close to our location on East Reach, has fallen into the bottom 10% of areas nationally for deprivation). SCCLT are now initiating projects in other towns in Somerset, to address the needs of other market towns like Highbridge and Wiveliscombe, two locations where they have a growing membership. In general, SCCLT supports independent, locally based CLTs, but it can be easier to begin as part of a larger organisation. This may in time lead to projects branching off from the ‘parent’ CLT to become self-managing.

In 2015, the CLT set the rents at a level that would allow any adult reliant on housing benefit to afford a self-contained flat. The continued freezing of benefits since then, coupled with the reduced housing allowance (LHA) offered to the under 35s, makes this a challenge.

Somerset Co-operative CLT can now say that rents are below LHA entitlements; and they are within reach of people with low entitlement (eg a younger person seeking a flat of their own) provided that they can use the £6 a week saved on broadband internet, the savings from use of the subsidised washing machine, and the £2 saved on reduced heating bills as a result of our investment in insulation, to make up any shortfall.

KSPI 2 - Supporting social enterprise

SCCLT goes beyond the simple provision of affordable housing by incubating, promoting and resourcing community enterprise. This is an integral part of its mission statement and enables the CLT to help tenants to not only have secure accommodation but to work together to improve their living standards and resilience  It is also enables the CLT to motivate and mobilise its supporters by showing that it does not just manage social problems, but brings about real social change.

The shop front has been let to Somerset Co-operative Services CIC and opened as a 'co-operative hub' which provides a range of services (including credit union savings and loans, social enterprise advice, low cost phone and energy tariffs, and car club membership). The rent is set at £530 a month, slightly lower than other high street premises in Taunton. East Reach is not the busiest area of the town centre and there are several empty shops there at present – Somerset CLT hopes that its hub contributes to a revival of specialist retail there.

Common environmental performance indicators (CEPIs)

CEPIs are environmental performance indicators that are common to all businesses, no matter what their main business activity is. Read more

Carbon emissions

Somerset Co-operative CLT does not currently report on carbon emissions saved.  

Staff travel to work

Somerset Co-operative CLT does not currently report on how staff travel to work. 

Waste and recycling

Somerset Co-operative CLT does not currently report on waste and recycling.

Common Social Performance Indicators (CSPIs)

CSPIs are social performance indicators that are common to all businesses, no matter what their main business activity is. Read more

Community involvement

Please see above KPSI 2.

Ethical procurement

Although Somerset Co-operative CLT seeks to use products that are sustainable it does not currently report on Ethical procurement.

Local employment

Somerset Co-operative CLT does not currently report on local employment.

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