§ Mr. Tilley
asked the Serretary of State for Industry if he will list the various sources of public funds for groups of workers in inner urban areas who wish to set up producer co-operatives.
§ Mr. Cryer
Co-operatives, like any other enterprise, can be assisted under the Industry Act 1972 and would be eligible for assistance under the Inner Urban Areas Bill now before Parliament. The Government have introduced a clause under the Inner Urban Areas Bill to give specific powers to designated district authorities to assist in the setting up of co-operative and common ownership enterprises.
The only public funds specifically reserved for producer co-operative projects derive from the Industrial Common Ownership Act 1976. The Act authorises the Secretary of State to make available up to £250,000 over five years to assist with the provision of small loans to worker controlled enterprises. The scheme is not limited to urban areas. It is administered by Industrial Common Ownership Finance Ltd.—(ICOF)—which has made five such loans so far, involving public funds of £33,500 altogether.