I read in yesterday’s Observer newspaper that a community benefit society is being set up in Scotland to provide cheap energy to households in fuel poverty. Unlike a COOP a community benefit society is set up to benefit the wider community rather than just its members. The community benefit society idea was created by the last labour government to encourage social enterprises, that is enterprises run on private sectors lines but that reinvest all their profit in their company for the benefit of the community.
This community benefit society has been launched by a whole heap of housing associations (some of which people at church work for) and one council. The idea has been covered before on this blog. But this is a very ambitious scheme hoping to reach 200,000 people. The idea is simple they hope to initially buy power more cheaply on mass and then generate some using renewables. Such companies already exist, I am signed up to the only Christian energy company, which is a social enterprise. I signed up with them for social reasons. Everyone pays the same rate and in effect I am helping to subsidise their lower income customers. There are also many community benefit societies based around local renewable energy schemes. This new community benefit society is a great idea and hopefully will help a real need.