Week 10 - unlocking funding and delivering impact through lockdown and beyond

The significant news this week was the Government announcement of the release of an additional £71 million of dormant assets, alongside £79 million recently announced.

Published

Written by

Jeremy Rogers, Chief Investment Officer

The total £150 million comprises:

  • £30 million of new funding to our sister organisation, Access – the Foundation for Social Investment – this will allow more ‘blended’ funding, such as grants alongside loans. This will enable a broader range of charities and social enterprises to be supported by social investment
  • £65 million to Fair4All Finance to support affordable credit providers
  • £10 million brought forward to the Youth Futures Foundation to help tackle youth unemployment
  • £45 million of previously committed and announced investment to Big Society Capital

Thank you for all that is done by banks and building societies to make this money available from unclaimed accounts, including our bank shareholders Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS. Extensive work goes on behind the scenes to get dormant account money to flow. From the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, through multiple dormant account commissions, Reclaim Fund, National Lottery Community Fund and our majority shareholder, The Big Society Trust.

This system has been established over many years and it is great to see it being brought into action when it is needed most. We look forward to working with our partner dormant accounts organisations on best deploying this money to help improve lives across the country.

At the start of this crisis, we set three priorities for our response and through this blog have sought to update you on progress:

Sharing Information

Our social investor and charity and social enterprise pages are regularly updated – including a charity and social enterprise guide to funding possibilities. In the last eight weeks, they have had over 48,000 unique users. This week saw the opening of applications for the National Lottery Community Fund’s £200 million grant programme for small and medium sized charities and social enterprises.

We are also working with partners globally to share information and approaches. We are a member of the Global Impact Investing Network that has recently created the Response, Resilience and Recovery coalition. If you are an investor interested in sharing co-investment opportunities and/or have capital to deploy in response to COVID-19, please complete the R3 Coalition Investor Interest Form.

Adapting

The announcement of additional dormant accounts to Fair4All Finance this week is a significant boost for the affordable credit sector. In the UK, over three million people access high cost credit and more than 12 million people have less than £50 in savings. Around 5% of our existing drawn social impact portfolio - or £25 million of investments with co-investors - are to organisations tackling financial exclusion.

This crisis has led to severe operational constraints on organisations working in this area alongside, in some cases, increased demand. For example, affordable credit providers we invest in, such as Moneyline, have had to close branches and only offer loans to existing customers. Others using digital approaches, such as Fair For You have seen spikes in demand. Credit Kudos has been developing new tools to support the self-employed. As we see across our portfolio, organisations have been achieving fantastic things adapting their delivery models, while supporting customers under significant stress.

Fund managers we invest in these organisations through, such as Big Issue Invest and Social Investment Scotland, have been working in this area alongside foundations for many years. More recently, we established the Fair by Design programme with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Foundation with the broader goal of ending the poverty premium. A significant part of the poverty premium is access to affordable financial services.

The establishment of our sister organisation, Fair4All Finance, has the potential to be transformational in this area, and play an important role in tackling the poverty premium. Fair4All Finance recently announced the launch of the COVID-19 Resilience Fund and Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme. These programmes will get a boost from the additional dormant accounts. Unfortunately, overall demand for affordable credit is likely to rise substantially through this crisis. Fair4All Finance has set itself the ambitious goal of a 10x scaling of the affordable credit sector.

New Funding

In many cases, a blend of grants and investment is needed by organisations to deliver their impact business model. Many organisations are already aiming to bring together funding from multiple sources to achieve this.

In some of our programmes, such as the Access Growth Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund – the social investor itself offers a blend of grants and loans to support enterprise models. The additional dormant accounts announced to Access this week will be used to expand blended capital programmes further including supporting organisations through the initial response and recovery phase.

It is anticipated parts of this blended capital programme may sit alongside emergency funds we have put in place, such as the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund delivered by Social Investment Business that is open for applications now. This offers loans that are interest and fee free for the first year, with no penalties for early repayment, using the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). It is being delivered in partnership with Big Issue Invest, Charity Bank and Social and Sustainable Capital.

Alongside the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund, our Community Investment Enterprise Facility managed by Social Investment Scotland offers CBILS loans to social enterprises and small businesses in disadvantaged areas. Additional social lenders are also gaining accreditation to make additional CBILS loans available. Triodos Bank is a significant lender to the charity and social enterprise sector and this week announced they will shortly be making CBILS loans to existing customers.

For early stage organisations who may not qualify for CBILS, the Future Fund opened for applications this week. The Future Fund provides convertible loans subject to match funding from private investors and is being considered by some of our social venture investees.

For many organisations in our portfolio, the immediate future holds many questions of how best to manage operations and deliver impact through the emergence from lockdown and an uncertain economic backdrop. The combination of grants, business support and investment needed by each organisation will be different. With our partners, we will continue to do all we can to develop and deliver the types of funding most needed throughout this crisis.

Over the last ten weeks, through the initial emergency response stage of this crisis, we have used this blog to share updates. You can find blogs from previous weeks below, including how different parts of our portfolio have been adapting so far. In future weeks, we will give shorter updates and be hosting guest blogs from managers across our portfolio - on what they have been doing to adapt and support organisations, as well as what they see as opportunities as we aim to “build back better” in the months ahead.

Jeremy Rogers

Jeremy Rogers

Chief Investment Officer
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