Six places in England begin their journey to tackle inequality through boosting their social economy

Local Access is a joint funding programme, established by Access and Big Society Capital that aims to support the development of stronger, more resilient and sustainable social economies in disadvantaged places.

After working with a range of partners with extensive experience in supporting place-based initiatives, Local Access invited twelve places to develop plans for how a blend of grant and repayable finance can support their local social economy. In January 2020 six of these twelve place were chosen. 

The six places are: Bradford; Bristol; Gainsborough; Greater Manchester (Bolton, Oldham, Stockport and Wigan); Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland; and Southwark in London.

We approach this through providing better access to advice, learning and flexible capital to support the early generation and establishment of enterprise models for charities and social enterprises in a place. Our hope is that this programme will help places become more resilient and enable collaboration between charities, social enterprises, investors and other actors in a place across a number of areas:

  • Building strong and sustainable local support systems to underpin enterprise growth and resilience for charities and social enterprises;
  • Pooling and sharing resources to support more efficient delivery models for investment or interventions;
  • Promoting collaborative or joint access to local pots of funding incorporating both grant and repayable finance; and
  • Promoting and strengthening local money flows to keep capital within local social economies (thus reducing ‘leakage’).

Local Access will be financed by £10m of dormant accounts money allocated to us from the government’s Reclaim Fund, and around £15m of repayable finance provided by Big Society Capital.

In each place, a partnership has come together and developed a widely shared vision for the growth of the social economy. These 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, and show significant ambition. 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 aspirations of existing originations, plugging gaps in support and bringing together initiatives into a thriving ecosystem.

The six partnerships will now begin a co-design process with Access and Big Society Capital to refine the detail of their enterprise development and investment plans with an expectation that the first place based programmes will launch in the second part of 2020.

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