Figures from The Community Enterprise Growth Plan Coalition, a group of voluntary sector and community representatives, enterprises and social investors, has revealed that the region has received more than £97m of funding since 2012, much of which has been unlocked by dormant assets in the UK’s financial system.
Bosses are now urging social enterprises, community groups and organisations to make their views known to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s public consultation on how a new £738m pot of dormant assets should be spent.
Organisations, such as Big Society Capital and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, want to build on the impact they have already delivered by using the previous money to provide loans to 160 social enterprises tackling the area’s most challenging social problems.
“The dormant assets consultation closes on Sunday, October 9 and is a once in a decade opportunity to influence how the £738m is going to be spent in England,” explained Tessa Godley, policy and strategy manager at Big Society Capital.
“This type of funding for social investment does not come along very often and it’s important to make your views known and support social investment – every response counts.”
The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises employ two million people and contribute £60 billion to the economy.
By giving local entrepreneurs access to the finance and support they need to grow their business models – often in places where standard forms of investment are hard to secure - it enables them to boost the local community, get more people into work and help people struggling with the cost of living.
Analysis shows that social enterprises disproportionately create more jobs in the poorest communities – generating and sustaining over 600,000 jobs in the most deprived areas, around 30 per cent of the total employment opportunities created.
Birmingham’s New Leaf Initiative, a grass-roots organisation offering intensive support to serving prisoners and people with convictions in the community, is a good example.
It has used some of the funding to help individuals find work, whilst also supporting them with other issues they face as they move away from crime.
Marie-Claire O’Brien, chief executive and founder of the New Leaf Initiative, said: “For years we struggled to get funding, but since we received social investment, we have been able to employ six people and are currently recruiting for two more members of staff.
“We’ve also been able to help people in the West Midlands deal with crises, such as homelessness, offending, food shortages, clothing needs, mental health, addiction, training and education, and ultimately finding and keeping jobs, which is what we are all about.”
She added: “We’ve seen first-hand just what kind of impact dormant assets funding can have in our communities when it is given over to social investment. It has provided vital funds to enable community enterprises like ours to thrive, despite often very challenging circumstances and a global pandemic.
“Just imagine what we could achieve if the government doubled the money available through this second round of dormant assets funding?”
Sara Williams, chief execiutive of Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Social investment can have huge impact when it is targeted to the organisations making a difference in the areas which face social and environmental challenges.
“We see this as an important part of the levelling up agenda and helping organisations who have been reliant on other funding to become more self-sufficient, more efficient and provide greater services for the communities in which they are based.
“It is essential that these organisations continue to be able to access social investment and additional money being made available through this second round of dormant assets funding would ensure even more impact in the West Midlands.”