We use our investments to build an inclusive economy and promote social inclusion. By doing this we aim to reduce inequality, reduce poverty and create thriving and inclusive communities across the UK.

Covid-19 has further highlighted the importance of this work. Many of the communities and organisations we support through our investments have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In 2020 we worked hard to find new ways of supporting charities and social enterprises to navigate through these challenging times.

  • £34.4m Amount of lending by CDFIs to underserved SMEs, including £20m of CBILS (from CIEF and match funding from Triodos and Unity Trust Bank)
  • 526 Number of loans made to under-served small or medium-sized enterprises through Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF) and match funding
  • 8384 Number of people employed by enterprises in receipt of Community Investment Enterprise Facility investment
  • 47% Number of organisations receiving CIEF finance based in the 35% most deprived areas by IMD of the UK

CDFIs - Community development financial institutions

SMEs - Small and medium-sized enterprises

CBILS - Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

CIEF - Community Investment Enterprise Facility

IMD - Index of Multiple Deprivation

Building resilience in social enterprises and charities to support continued impact in their communities

With the support of Big Society Capital and the National Lottery Community Fund, to date, the Access Growth Fund has made more than 500 investments at an average size of £66,000 across England. With a network of small funds, including some with a regional and/or sector focus, the majority of the investment has been in the 30% most deprived communities according to the indices of deprivation.

In 2020, when Covid-19 struck, we adapted our existing funding to target capital and interest rate holidays. This was the quickest way to give cashflow relief to organisations affected by the crisis and help them continue to serve their communities.

Investing to support community-based business models

Working with partners at Social Investment Scotland who deliver the £30 million Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF), we amended the terms of the facility in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This supported greater investment into small businesses at the heart of communities at a time when it was needed most.

BCRS Business Loans received an £8.5 million loan from the CIEF to provide loans to small businesses in the West Midlands. BCRS deployed over £5.6 million of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) lending in 2020. With matched funding from Triodos Bank, BCRS deployed £10.4 million, including £5.6 million of CBILS, to underserved businesses through the crisis, contributing to economic resilience in their communities.

Working with local partners to support more equal and resilient social economies

Building on the example of the Growth Fund, our Local Access programme launched, announcing the support of £10 million grant and £15 million loan funding for six places across England in 2020 to establish blended finance products for social enterprises and charities. In addition, a further £8 million has been committed to Access to support the corresponding development of enterprise activity in those places.

It has been adapted to the circumstances of Covid-19, with greater resource and support provided through the initial planning phases. The long-term aims of the programme, to support visions of a thriving social economy in each place, will be a vital contribution to local economic recovery in the coming years.

Impact management and measurement practice update

In 2020, we continued working on our Place impact measurement framework. It outlines our approach to capturing the impact and systems change we’re aiming for by working with local and national partners on shared outcome goals – as well as helping build local investment ecosystems that strengthen local social economies. Through increased capital flows we intend to support enterprises deliver impact within and across communities. The impact framework forms the basis of our impact measurement approach for the Local Access programme and our support to six places.