Over the last decade, Tees Valley has received over £17m worth of funding from dormant assets, and there could be more to come.
Figures from The Community Enterprise Growth Plan Coalition – a group of voluntary sector and community representatives, enterprises and social investors – have demonstrated that the Tees Valley has received £17m worth of funding from dormant assets residing in the UK’s financial system, including over £10m in Stockton on Tees and over £4m in Redcar and Cleveland.
Organisations like Big Society Capital and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment – have used the money to give social enterprises access to the finance and support they need to grow businesses tackling the region’s most challenging social problems.
Head of Engagement at Big Society Capital James Westhead said: “We were founded ten years ago with money from dormant bank accounts (money sat forgotten in UK banks) and are working on a campaign to encourage further commitment of dormant assets to social investment.
“Social investment helps to create jobs, grow businesses and tackle complex social problems. By giving local entrepreneurs access to the finance and support they need to grow their business models – often in places where standard forms of investment are hard to secure – it enables them to boost the local economy, get more people into work and help people struggling with the cost of living.”
One local organisation that has benefitted from the funding is Veterans at Ease, a charity providing free therapy and support to veterans, reservists, serving military personnel and their families to help them deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other combat stress-related issues. The organisation has been able scale up their activity and reach more people in the local community having taken on social investment.
Christina Murrell, CEO of Veterans at Ease said: “For years we wanted to set up a social enterprise, but we couldn’t secure the necessary funding. But since we’ve received social investment, we have been able to open seven shops, employ 28 people and offer volunteering opportunities to many more.
“We have also helped our charity open 4 therapy centres across the region which in turn has helped hundreds of soldiers and other service personnel find peace and have better mental health. As so many of our beneficiaries come to us with thoughts of suicide, we are really proud to say that we help save Veterans’ lives, which is all thanks to our investors, employees, volunteers and supporters.”
Across the whole of England, £2bn has already been invested in similar local initiatives, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has recently launched a consultation to gather public views on how a new pot of £738m from dormant assets should be spent.
Carol Botten, CEO of Voluntary Organisations North East, said: “We’ve seen first-hand just what kind of impact dormant assets funding given over to social investment has had in our communities. It’s provided vital funds to enable community enterprises to thrive despite often very challenging circumstances – including to some of our 1,300 members across the North East.
“In fact, the current funding model has been so successful that earlier this year we launched Local Access Redcar & Cleveland and Hartlepool (LARCH) to support the development of the social enterprise and charity sector in Tees Valley. This programme totals £1.6m of enterprise development support and £2.4m of accessible social investment over 5-7 years. The aim of the programme is to support organisations to do more to tackle inequalities that may contribute to health, housing, employment or wellbeing, as well as to develop a thriving and financially sustainable social economy in Redcar & Cleveland and Hartlepool.
“If we’re able to set up this kind of initiative now, just imagine what we could achieve if the government doubled the money available through this second round of dormant asset funding.”
The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises employ 2 million people and contribute £60bn to the UK economy. Analysis shows that social enterprises create disproportionately more jobs in the poorest communities – creating and sustaining over 600,000 jobs in the most deprived communities, around 30% of their total jobs created. A deep-dive analysis by the Social Investment Forum finds that 43% of social investment deals have gone to Levelling Up Priority 1 Areas, totalling £520 million across nearly 2,000 deals.
Tessa Godley, Policy and Strategy Manager at Big Society Capital said: “The dormant assets consultation closes on Sunday 9th October and is a once in a decade opportunity to influence how the £738 million is going to be spent in England. This type of funding for social investment does not come along very often and it’s important to make your views known and support social investment – every response counts.”