£33m Impact Investing Experiment Kicks Off

05 February 2020 by Grace Coleman
blog author

Six communities in England are to take part in a new experimental £33million programme to boost the local economy and reduce inequality.

The programme, called Local Access, will see Bradford, Bristol, Gainsborough, Greater Manchester (Bolton, Oldham, Stockport and Wigan), Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and London’s Southwark granted access to the £33m funds.

Of those funds, £25m will enable local charities and social enterprises to access loans and other investment products to develop and strengthen their social enterprise sector.

Each place – which was shortlisted from a list of 12 - will be granted funding and repayable investment to grow.

Each community will now begin developing detailed funding and investment plans, with a further £8million of grants to support organisations at an earlier stage of growth to develop their enterprise plans and support social infrastructure.

Local Access is a partnership between Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, and Big Society Capital.

Access works to make charities and social enterprises in England more financially resilient and self-reliant, to enable them to sustain or increase their impact.

Big Society Capital connects social investment to social enterprises and charities in the UK.

The six partnerships will now commence a co-design process with Access and Big Society Capital to detail the enterprise development and investment plans. It is expected that the first place-based programmes will launch in the second part of 2020.

While the partnerships are unique to each place, they commonly represent social enterprises, local authorities and local sector infrastructure organisations.

Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access, said: “We all know charities and social enterprises do good work in our communities, but the sector’s power as an economic force, one which can help reshape local economies and in so doing tackle the most entrenched inequality, is often overlooked.

“We are delighted to be working with six hugely ambitious places to help them to realise this potential and grow their local social economies through the tools of enterprise support
and access to investment through blended finance.”

Cliff Prior, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said: “Where you were born should not affect your opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life. But there are many areas in
the UK that have experienced high levels of deprivation for many years, and even in relatively prosperous areas there can be pockets that reveal huge levels of inequality.

“We believe the Local Access programme offers an innovative approach to levelling up the disparity between places through developing the social economy. Crucially it is a pilot
programme, and so we look forward to gathering the learning emerging from each of the places as the programme progresses.”