Local Access is a joint funding programme, established by Access and Big Society Capital that aims to support the development of stronger, more resilient and sustainable social economies in disadvantaged places.
After working with a range of partners with extensive experience in supporting place-based initiatives, in 2019 Local Access invited twelve places to develop a shared vision for how a blend of grant and repayable finance could support their local social economy. Following this, in January 2020 six of these twelve places were chosen to prepare full plans for their programmes, which could be profiled up to ten years in duration.
The six Local Access places are:
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Oldham, Stockport and Wigan)
- Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland
- Southwark in London
Each place has since developed a plan for their area to provide improved access to advice, learning and flexible capital to support the early generation and establishment of enterprise models for charities and social enterprises in a place. The pandemic slowed down the pace of development in some areas, but all six places started delivering live programmes at some point between 2020 and 2022.
Local partnerships are unique to each place, but commonly represent social enterprises, local authorities and local sector infrastructure organisations.
The visions of the partnerships build on the opportunities in each place, and show significant ambition. Some focus on developing their place as a destination for social enterprise, or removing barriers to setting up new social businesses, particularly for those communities historically underserved in their area. Others focus on raising the aspirations of existing organisations, plugging gaps in support and bringing together initiatives into a thriving ecosystem.
Our hope is that this programme will help places become more resilient and enable collaboration between charities, social enterprises, investors and other actors in a place across a number of areas:
- Building strong and sustainable local support systems to underpin enterprise growth and resilience for charities and social enterprises;
- Pooling and sharing resources to support more efficient delivery models for investment or interventions;
- Promoting collaborative or joint access to local pots of funding incorporating both grant and repayable finance; and
- Promoting and strengthening local money flows to keep capital within local social economies (thus reducing ‘leakage’).
Local Access is financed by £10m of dormant accounts money allocated to us from the government’s Reclaim Fund, and around £15m of repayable finance provided by Big Society Capital.