The Treasury announced back in Spring 2021 that Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) would be extended until 2023. Despite falling short of the five-year extension championed by Big Society Capital in partnership with organisations including Social Enterprise UK, Resonance, Co-operatives UK and the Plunkett Foundation, it was a short-term win which continues to fill a gap in financing for small and early-stage organisations.
But what does this extension mean in real terms, and has it really made a difference?
To date, SITR has enabled social enterprises and charities to access almost £16m in capital; overwhelmingly in rural areas, with over 90% outside of London.
This is the first in a series of blogposts where we spotlight just a few of the organisations who have utilised the extension of SITR to create impact within their communities.
The Sweet Project
Situated in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham many residents of the Three Estates are from low-income families, with almost 9,000 children (37%) classified as living in poverty. With high levels of socio-economic and health inequalities, it has become a hotspot for crime and violence with interventions and preventative work desperately needed.
The Sweet (Social Work Experience, Education & Training) Project is a social enterprise which was formed in 2010 by Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell. The local women, who both previously worked in family support services themselves, recognised the need for improved and accessible support services for their community: including quality placement learning opportunities for student social workers.
With a reduction in many community services, including a lack of quality social care for both children and adults, The Sweet Project offers whole-family support services. These include drop-in advisory services, family sessions, parenting groups and separate support groups for domestic violence survivors and perpetrators. It works closely with around 40 universities across the UK to provide supported placement learning opportunities for student social workers; many of whom themselves have experienced barriers to accessing education and employment, including those with disabilities or additional learning needs.
Under the supervision of a range of experienced and qualified staff at The Sweet Project, student social workers undertake a variety of statutory tasks in real-life situations within the Three Estates community - including family and adult assessments, child protection plans and adult safeguarding services for local councils.
As well as providing crucial and much-needed practical support to families in the area, The Sweet Project helps students to develop their skills, experience and confidence.
Income is generated through student placement fees from its university partners, as well as through contracts to deliver specialist social care interventions within local authorities, local schools and other agencies including the police and judicial services.
A £100,000 investment from the West Midlands Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund has enabled the organisation to take on and refurbish better-suited and fit-for-purposes premises to facilitate its longer-term growth, plus recruit two new business development and service delivery team members.
In addition they received £66,300 of grant funding from Resonance’s COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund, funded by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, which was used to cover the short-term impact on student delivery arising from the impact of Covid-19 and lock down restrictions.
Jayne Cresswell and Jayne Hulbert, Directors of The Sweet Project, said: “The Sweet Project was delighted to receive blended investment from Resonance earlier this year. This investment will enable our organisation to develop further university partnerships across the country, increase our staff team and enable us to continue our service delivery across the whole of South Birmingham, whilst moving to more affordable premises. The Investment will help strengthen our business model moving forward by bringing in further business development support. As a Community Interest Company, we have found that over the years grant funding has become increasingly difficult, so this investment will also enable us to put further plans and ideas into action.”
Grace England, Senior Investment Manager at Resonance, said: “We are so pleased to be supporting The Sweet Project’s next phase of growth – the team has provided an invaluable service to communities across South Birmingham for many years, and has demonstrated exceptional resilience throughout that time. This has included a continued commitment to delivering high quality services and support throughout the pandemic, despite increased challenges and obstacles, which has been a real credit to the team and The Sweet Project offering. This investment will help bolster the organisation going forwards, ensuring it can continue to grow for many years to come, whilst widening its impact and reach.”
It’s crucial that in the remaining extension period we support fund managers and wealth advisors to deploy as much SITR capital as possible, and continue to raise awareness across the social sector, ensuring those for which the funding is a viable option have access to it.
SITR is still here and available for use until April 2023.
If you’re an investor, adviser, social enterprise or charity looking for support and guidance on Social Investment Tax Relief, visit GET SITR here. Or, if you would like to join the conversation and find out more about ongoing work with the UK Government on SITR please contact Melanie Mills, Senior Director - Social Sector Engagement or Olivia McLoughlin, Senior Communications and Engagement Officer.