Policy areas

Securing Finance & Business Models

Generating income from land-based activities can be difficult. Factors like drastic cuts in public budgets and the declining price of food put further strain on business models. We think that there are many current and yet-to-be explored opportunities for innovative financial models that support common good land use. However, these opportunities must be considered in the context of continuing public funding for public goods.

Key issues:

  • Lack of security of tenure. It is difficult to secure loans and grants when you don’t own the land or have a long lease agreement.  This is another problem that stems from insecure access to land.
  • Social and environmental value is not recognised in the market. Improving natural capital such as biodiversity or air quality is of great value, but is generally not adequately compensated. The same is true for social capital.
  • Some models of land use employed by common good land users are still relatively new and thus considered risky investments. Indeed many have developed to respond to gaps in conventional approaches.
  • While there are already well established projects operating successfully, the sector needs time and support to develop, identify, scale and promote successful models.
  • Structural market issues, such as the market domination of large producers and buyers for food, fuel and timber make it hard to generate income from smaller scale land management.
For the sector to thrive we must understand which business models are likely to work best in which situations, and to celebrate and help to scale success stories.

What needs to change:

  1. Innovative financial models, charitable funding and social finance need to be developed, supported and scaled up.
  2. Structural market issues need to be addressed.
    • This includes ensuring producers get fair prices, workers get fair wages, and new entrants can secure access to finance and land.
  3. Policy needs to be more supportive of land-based social enterprises.
    • This might mean refocusing tax and subsidies on promoting common good land use.
    • It could also mean making a wider range of common good land uses eligible for social investment tax relief.
  4. Social and environmental outcomes need to be valued.
    • This means strengthening and extending existing legislation like the Social Value Act.
    • Also building on measures to value the environment and recognising and rewarding health outcomes such as Natural Capital accounting.

Our projects

  • Many of our research projects focus on developing and exploring innovative ways of securing finance and the best practice associated with it. This currently includes working on new models such as our proposed  Land and Savings Trust, and working with social financiers.

Further resources

Scroll down to the posts below to read the latest updates on our work in this policy area.

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