IMPORTANT: We do not make finance available directly to Charities and Social Enterprises, who should visit Good Finance to identify the most appropriate ways in which social investment can help.
In early 2023, Access was granted £12m from Dormant Assets (alongside £8m for Big Society Capital) to bolster the energy resilience of charities and social enterprises. After conducting an extensive consultation with stakeholders, we outlined our approach to deploying these funds. The objective is to reduce energy costs, improve energy efficiency, and promote a just transition towards a greener future.
Consultation Approach and Summary of Feedback
Over the summer of 2023, we engaged with various stakeholders, receiving valuable feedback and insights. One of the key themes highlighted was the scale of need and that is why we view these programmes as starter programmes for Access and others to build on in the future. We also heard about some of the non-financial barriers holding charities and social enterprises from pursuing energy efficiency measures as well as social investors’ appetite to develop skills in this area to better serve their investees. This is why we’re focusing on market-building as well as pure fund deployment.
Links to Access’s Wider Role in Just Transition
Social and environmental issues cannot be disaggregated and Access has a key role to play in a Just Transition – ensuring that the substantial benefits of a green economy transition are shared widely, while also supporting those who stand to lose. We are developing a broader strategy on how we use the tools at our disposal to ensure a Just Transition, whilst taking action to review and address our impact in relation to issues of decarbonisation, nature recovery and climate mitigation/adaptation.
While this funding is specifically aimed at energy resilience, Access aims to utilize it as a stepping stone towards supporting community enterprises in ecosystem adaptation and upskilling individuals for a greener economy.
Access funds will be distributed across three main strands:
- Blended finance to support energy efficiency measures.
- Support to support social sector providers of energy advice and support, encouraging green employability and skills
- Grant funding for market-building initiatives to address non-financial barriers and promote a greener sector.
Blended Finance for Energy Efficiency Measures
This strand will provide grant funding for social investors to deploy alongside investment for energy advice and energy efficiency measures. This will fund improvements to organisations’ buildings, transport or equipment. Applications for this strand are now closed and we are looking forward to shortly announcing the partners involved in delivering this strand.
Blended Finance for Social Sector Energy Support Providers
In the consultation, we heard that a key barrier is the availability and quality of organisations providing energy advice and services. At the same time, there is a significant amount of future spend that will be created across this and other initiatives. We want to make sure that as much of this remains in the social sector. That can enable greater investment in disadvantaged communities and more jobs being created in economically deprived areas.
We are currently seeking a partner to further understand the opportunities to better support charities and social enterprises providing energy efficiency services. This will include providing an insight into the number of charities and social enterprises providing these services and to identify possible options for delivery approaches to enhance the supply side of energy efficiency in the social sector.
We are seeking tender proposals to be delivered by 9:00am on December 11 .
Grant Funding for Market-Building Initiatives
Access has allocated a portion of the funding to commission grant-based initiatives to build the market for energy resilience. This includes upskilling programs, investment in data gathering and analysis, creating an information hub, developing a procurement framework, and convening aligned stakeholders. These tools are currently under development and will be available for use in due course.
Impact and Learning
Through these initiatives, Access aims to create a substantial impact on society, communities, the environment, and policy. By implementing energy-efficient measures, we seek to reduce energy consumption and costs for social and community enterprises. This, in turn, will enable these organizations to allocate more resources to their beneficiaries while also reducing their ecological footprint. Moreover, we hope that some of the investments will help foster meaningful conversations within communities about the Climate Emergency and the importance of transitioning to sustainable energy practices.
Learning and understanding are fundamental to Access, as we are committed to evaluating the effectiveness of various financial interventions, assessing the sector’s perception of climate emergency risks, gauging social investors’ capacity to meet increasing demands, and identifying the interest of other funders in similar initiatives.
We anticipate that this program will serve as a foundation for future funders and investors to collectively drive a significant transformation in the energy resilience of the sector.
Access is deeply committed to empowering and strengthening charities and social enterprises through energy resilience initiatives. Through our chosen funding allocation, we hope to deliver tangible impact and pave the way for a more resilient future for organisations and communities. We remain committed to learning and sharing insights as we go and look forward to working alongside many in the sector as we take this work forward.
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