Let me start by saying that the publication of this report should be welcomed by our network. An official report, which will influence Labour’s future policy activity, and which recognises the role and value of community-owned businesses, should be seen as a positive. Secondly, the recognition of the need to go beyond current legislation and strengthen the Community Rights, to include a Community Right to Buy, is something we have long called for.
This would overcome a major shortcoming in current legislation which only provides communities a six-month moratorium period to make a bid for an asset of community value. Asset owners maintain the right to refuse to sell to the community. A Community Right to Buy would instead give communities the first right of refusal to purchase at a fair value.
As a UK-wide organisation, we are conscious to make clear the proposed ‘Community Right to Buy’ in this report would be for communities in England only. This will not distract us from our ambition to see communities, in all UK nations, have a right of first refusal on the assets that matter most to them. To this end, we will continue to support calls for improvements to the current Community Right to Buy in Scotland and will work with our partners in Wales and Northern Ireland to continue growing the community ownership sectors here also.