News from Access – January 2024 – including updates on our Cost of Living programme

Updates from the Access team on all things social investment, blended finance and enterprise development.

This month at Access

Access in numbers – Those familiar with our work will know that we focus on building a social investment market fit for the future, as well as delivering finance to the frontline. 

  • Through our partners, Access has now supported over 2,200 charities and social enterprises and enabled over £100 million of investment to flow to the VCSE sector.
  • Since 2016, Access has committed over £71 million from the Dormant Asset scheme into funds and programmes that support charities and frontline social enterprises.
  • This has leveraged investment from both the private and philanthropic sectors – delivering at least an additional £100 million for charities and social enterprises (approximately £1.46 for every £1 spent). More number crunching here. 

Cost of Living fund update – Following receipt of Dormant Assets, our £11m Cost of Living programme got underway in Autumn 2023. It is focused on getting support to charities and social enterprises that are using trading models to support those facing the brunt of acute cost of living pressures. 11 partners are now busy distributing funds – including £1.4 million over the last quarter alone through blended finance or enterprise development grants. To date, this support has focussed predominantly on those working on food distribution, transport and financial exclusion. More about the programme here.

Impact Loans England – supported by Access and backed by Dormant Assets, Big Issue Invest have launched a new £15 million fund open to charities and social enterprises across England. The fund will provide inclusive, flexible and patient loans of £20 – 400k to support the development of new services, buy assets and support contract delivery. The fund combines grant funding with repayable finance with up to 20% available as grant. More here.

Struggling with energy bills – The £25.5m VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme is now open to help voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in England improve their energy efficiency. Eligible organisations can apply for an independent energy assessment or apply for capital grants to install physical energy efficiency measures. More here.



Social Investment Stories 

How social investment enabled Rochdale-based community organisation, KYP, to rebuild their expertise and track record post-Covid to the point where they could secure funding again.

Hear from CEO Zulf Ahmed on the investment and support they received from GMCVO.

What we’re reading and listening to

Right to buy – The independent Community Wealth Commission, backed by the Co-operative party, looks at how to further support community ownership in the UK.

Not to be missed – SEUK’s bi-annual look at the state of social enterprise. The report underlines the need for smaller-scale long-term patient finance such as blended finance. This quarter’s Social Enterprise Advisory Panel survey closes on Monday, so there’s still time to help give invaluable insights into how social enterprises are performing. 

Democratic business – Centre-right think tank, Bright Blue, delves into the history, benefits and barriers faced by ‘democratic businesses’ such as local community groups, nationwide employee-owned retailers, football clubs and housing developers.


Did you know?

Our friends at Good Finance spent much of December celebrating stories of social investment across the UK. From the highlands of Scotland to the sandy beaches of Cornwall and from regenerative ocean farming to a cheerleading, tumbling and parkour facility – there are some fantastic examples of social investment in action.
Check out their blog page to learn more about social investment activity in your area, or fill out this quick form if you’d like to share your social investment story.

Finally, Adrian Bean, Investment Project Development Manager at Key Fund has retired after 45 years in financial services, the last six of which were in social investment. Here’s some key reflections and learnings from his time in the sector via Good Finance.