Six areas across the UK will receive a share of a new £33m investment programme, launched today, aimed at tackling inequality through boosting the social economy.
Local Access, a pilot programme operated by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and Big Society Capital, will provide money to Bradford, Bristol, Gainsborough, Greater Manchester, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Southwark in London.
Six other areas were invited to develop plans but were not successful in securing funding - Calderdale, Coventry, Dover, Leicester, Plymouth and Wigan. Big Society Capital and Access have said they will look to support those that were not selected in other ways.
Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access - The Foundation for Social Investment, 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.”
'Where you were born should not affect your opportunity'
Cliff Prior, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said that there are many areas in the UK that have experienced “high levels of deprivation for many years”, and that even in relatively prosperous areas “there can be pockets that reveal huge levels of inequality”.
“Where you were born should not affect your opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life,” he said.
Prior added: “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.”
Partnership in Greater Manchester to develop social investment products
In Greater Manchester, a partnership of local authorities, social enterprises, charities and the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) will develop social investment products based on the needs of local social enterprise, blending loans, grants and support. The partnership will refine its plans via a co-design process with Access and Big Society Capital, with the aim to launch in the second half of this year.
Ian Taylor, director of business development at GMCVO, said: “Greater Manchester has a history of social innovation and enterprise. The Local Access programme is a responsive investment that will enable four local partnerships to stimulate the social economy in their district through a broad collaboration of organisations.
“The aspiration is to create a full spectrum of support from inspiring new entrepreneurs to scaling up social enterprise, blended with a menu of social investment that will stimulate growth, the local economy and social impact.”