The Wessex Reinvestment Trust group
The Wessex group was founded in 2002, following extensive research, as a variation of a
community development finance institution (CDFI) and was one of the original community
asset reinvestment trusts (CART). It was sponsored by Community Finance Solutions at
the University of Salford and Lloyds Bank, with a steering group comprising
representatives of social enterprises in West Dorset.
The Wessex group’s main functions were to provide finance to small enterprises and
social enterprises; to finance home improvements for disadvantaged home-owners who
were asset rich, but cash poor; and to develop community assets - affordable housing and
Wessex Community Assets Limited (known as WCA) was registered with the Financial
Services Authority (FSA) as a community benefit (bencom) industrial and provident society
(IPS) on the 24th January 2007, registered number 30175R.
In addition to Wessex Community Assets, the group comprises: Wessex Reinvestment
Trust (known as WRT), registered as a company limited by guarantee at Companies
House registered number 4580767, and registered as a charity with the Charity
Commission registered number 1105000; WRT Core Company Limited (trading as
Wessex Home Improvement Loans and known as WHIL), registered as a company limited
by guarantee at Companies House registered number 4512225; and Wessex
Reinvestment Society Limited (known as WRS) registered as an IPS with the FSA
registered number 29496R.
Wessex Reinvestment Trust has provided “research and development” functions,
sometimes directly and sometimes by contracting with other organisations in the group.
WHIL provides loans to disadvantaged householders to bring their home to a decent
standard. This is supported by a range of local authorities (LA) including West Dorset
District Council – one of the founding group of LAs. WHIL has loans outstanding in excess
of £4 million and still growing.
WRS had been involved in lending to small enterprises and was more recently working in
association with a micro-enterprise charity. Its work has been adopted by this micro-
enterprise charity and WRS is returning to the Wessex group, but will remain dormant in
Currently the main activity within the Wessex Reinvestment Trust group is carried out
through Wessex Core Company and Wessex Community Assets. Core Company operates
the Wessex Home Improvement Loans service in partnership with 19 local authorities. 800
loans have been made to low income home owners, and around £4 million has been lent
Wessex Community Assets provides services in two main areas:
- Support for affordable housing, through the Somerset, Devon and Dorset Community
Land Trust Project.
- Support for community asset development and community investment mechanisms.
WCA is a sponsoring body for Industrial and Provident Society model rules, and these
allow low cost community share issues. In addition, WCA is working with a range of
partners to develop innovative social enterprise initiatives in the areas of renewable
energy, sustainable food and low cost workspace.
The diagram below illustrates the recent and current activity within the Wessex
Reinvestment Trust group, carried out by Wessex Core Company and WCA: