Six areas in England chosen to share £33 million programme to tackle inequality

Six locations in England are to take part in an experimental £33 million programme to tackle inequality through boosting social economy.

The six places will have access to funds totalling £33 million, £25 million of which will be to enable local charities and social enterprises to access loans and other investment products to help grow their enterprise activity, become more resilient and enable more local people to benefit from their work. A further £8 million of grants will support organisations at an earlier stage of growth to develop their enterprise plans and support social infrastructure.

Selected to take part in Local Access, which is a partnership between Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, and Big Society Capital, from a shortlist of 12 are:

o Bradford. 
o Bristol.
o Gainsborough.
o Greater Manchester (Bolton, Oldham, Stockport and Wigan).
o Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland, and
o Southwark in London.

The selected areas will now begin developing detailed funding and investment plans. Each will receive a mix of support, grant funding and repayable investment to grow their local charity and social enterprise sector as part of increasing prosperity and boosting the local economy, with the ultimate aim of reducing inequality.

Each of the locations has seen a partnership come together and develop a shared vision for the growth of the social economy over the last six months. The partnerships are unique to each place, but commonly represent social enterprises, local authorities and local sector infrastructure organisations.

The visions of the partnerships build on the opportunities in each place. Some focus on developing their place as a destination for social enterprise, or removing barriers to setting up new social businesses. Others focus on raising existing aspirations, plugging gaps in support and bringing together initiatives into a thriving ecosystem.

In March 2019 twelve places were invited to apply. In the end, eleven applications were submitted at the end of October as two places merged. Each place was visited by a team from Access and Big Society Capital during November and December 2019, following which the final 6 areas were selected.

Of the £33m, £10m will come from Access to provide the grant subsidy for the blended social investment (sourced from Dormant Accounts), while around £15 million of matching repayable finance will come from Big Society Capital for the blended social investment, and £8 million will come from Access’ existing endowment from the UK Government to support enterprise development activity.

Image: St Pauls Gardens Estate, Bristol, one of the most deprived
areas in the city.
Source: UK Fundraising