A "radical" new scheme aimed at helping to fund community-owned enterprises and boost local services has been launched by The Co-operative Group.
A fund of £500,000 will be made available to underwrite community share issues following huge interest in local involvement in schemes ranging from retail and renewables to pubs and post offices.
The fund will underwrite a community share issue by up to £50,000, although The Co-op said that the reassurance provided by the scheme may mean that any money-raising target will be reached without investment from the fund.
Michael Fairclough, head of community and co-operative investment at The Co-op, said: "Communities across the country, driven by needs other than to maximise profit, are turning to co-operatively owned solutions for the provision of businesses and services.
"These enterprises are operated by a general public increasingly concerned for environment, community cohesion and sustainability.
"The Co-operative Enterprise Hub already provides a variety of tools to support community-led regeneration anywhere in the country.
"Its new Community Shares Fund offer seeks to enhance the service it provides, addressing the need for a very specific form of financial support as communities tackle local issues."