Mendip Council to seek innovative funding sources to unlock future civic schemes

Mendip District Council is exploring innovative new ways to fund local projects, including options such as municipal bonds and crowdfunding.

The move would see residents participating alongside the Council on 'hyper-local' schemes, and investing in them. Communities would enjoy all the benefits of civic ventures, with new investments (aligned to the Council's priorities) delivering even more projects- and delivering them quicker.

Crowdfunding is just one way Councils can tap into new streams of fundraising, with a strong focus on wellbeing, social deprivation, climate change mitigation projects and local community facilities. This is a distinct shift away from the bricks-and-mortar investments more traditionally made by public bodies.

Civic schemes already exist within local communities across the district, for example where people have come together to invest in community shops, and community hubs. Since COVID, residents have experienced the advantages of not just shopping locally, but investing locally, and living their lives locally too.

Deputy Leader of Mendip District Council and Portfolio Holder for Enterprise and Finance, Cllr Barry O'Leary, said: "This is funding in action, and also democracy in action. We can begin to unlock community finance, and community partnering.  Mendip wants to invest in a greener, fairer future for all its residents.

"Because of the shake-up in local authority budgetary finances, we have had to look at other ways of bringing in the monies, the people and the ideas. That's what something like crowdfunding or municipal bonds would do.

"The basic services that your Council delivers will of course continue to be funded through the Council Tax, but we need to look ahead and do more with our communities across Mendip. And we need to do that in innovative new ways."

Cllr O'Leary added: "I like to think of it as civic shareholding. It's about owning or investing in a bit of your community and putting something back into where you live."