Downturn fuelling community interest companies

AN increasing number of community interest companies are being established in Yorkshire, triggered by the economic downturn and public sector cuts.

CICs allow people to create socially beneficial enterprises coupled with the ability to attract grant funding.

Local authority cut backs are driving the demand for CICs as public funds are inadequate to address many social issues, according to Duncan Milwain, director and head of the wills, trusts and estates department at Lupton Fawcett.

Social success: (l-r) Duncan Milwain; Healing Through Style founder and owner Nathanya Laurent; Healing Through Style client (with mirror), Christine McGowan, and Social Business Brokers co-founder and director, Rob Greenland.

Mr Milwain said: “There have always been people who have wanted to get involved with socially-useful enterprises. For many this has, until now, mainly taken the form of volunteering to work with charities.

However, the current economic landscape is a catalyst for growth in the social enterprise sector.

“Many people now see potential market opportunities in providing services which previously had been the sole preserve of the state.  

“Some are people made redundant from the public sector who wish to use their knowledge to provide the same, or a similar, service locally through a social enterprise. Others are launching niche businesses to provide new services which the public sector is unable to contemplate for a variety of reasons.”

Lupton Fawcett is working alongside Social Business Brokers, of Beeston, founded by directors Rob Greenland and Gill Coupland in 2010.

It helps would-be social entrepreneurs refine their ideas into a commercial proposition.

Mr Greenland said: “We are working with a mix of people. Some are charities which want to generate an income through starting a chargeable new service. Others want to become social entrepreneurs and have either left their jobs or been made redundant and feel that they can best make a difference running their own small business.”

Image expert Nathanya Laurent came across her idea for a community interest company three years ago when travelling the UK with fashion guru Bradley Taylor staging ‘Challenge the Stylist’ events in shopping centres giving women free consultations.

Now Leeds-based Healing Through Style CIC, founded in November (2011), provides style guidance and confidence support for women from vulnerable groups, using fashion  and style techniques at group workshops and one-to-one sessions to give women experiences which boosts their confidence.