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Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, will announce plans to establish a fund to support socially trading organisations to multiply and grow across the city region, including potential funding from the Combined Authority of up to £5 million.

The Metro Mayor will make the announcement at a conference in Birkenhead today (24 October 2019) organised by national charitable trust Power to Change, who champion community business and will act as sponsor for the project.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has already awarded £62,000 of pre-development funding from its Strategic Investment Fund to a working group of local social economy leaders, including Creative Economist and Seebohm Hill, who will work with Power to Change and the Combined Authority to investigate the feasibility of the project.

Subject to approval by the Combined Authority, up to £5 million could be provided from its Strategic Investment Fund with additional funding sought from other sources locally and nationally.

The initial idea for an investment and support fund came from a local community reference group, representative of the diversity of the social economy sector, which presented a paper to the Combined Authority in September 2018.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“I want the Liverpool City Region to be the UK’s fairest and most inclusive local economy and social enterprise is at the heart of that. We already have a thriving third sector across the region and this new £5m fund will help it to drive it from strength-to-strength. Devolution gives us the opportunity to do things differently and this is a radically different way for us to work with the social economy, ensuring that local people are able to benefit from local prosperity.”

Seebohm Hill’s work with the Heseltine Institute on The Scale and Scope of the Social Economy in Liverpool City Region found that 1,400 social organisations account for 1 in every 10 local jobs. However, their report found the potential of this sector is being hampered by poor access to funds and a lack of place-based support. The availability of appropriate funding and support will deliver a growth pipeline of socially trading organisations capable of addressing the City Region’s key challenges in new ways.

Danielle Cohen, development manager at Power to Change said:

“Liverpool City Region has an extremely well-established social economy, including at least 84 community businesses with an annual turnover of £22 million. We strongly believe that community business has the potential to have a huge impact on the wider city region and it is very exciting we have been given the green light to investigate the possibility of dedicated social investment and support for the city region. We look forward to working in partnership to bring this to life.”

Councillor Pat Hackett, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and Third Sector, said:

“We already have a particularly vibrant social economy, but by nurturing an ecosystem that provides peer support together with public and private sector support, we can become a national and, indeed international, beacon for collaboration within the social economy for inclusive growth.”

The working group will now engage with the community reference group to test and guide the fund’s development for organisations which trade commercially and have social impact with the aim of ensuring the fund is up and running by Spring 2020. It will research what finance is best suited to multiply and grow organisations, how such a fund could be managed, test out different financial models and how demand can be stimulated throughout the city region.

Erika Rushton, of Creative Economist, said:

“My work across Liverpool City Region over the last three years has demonstrated the insatiable appetite for homegrown businesses which drive a social impact in their local area. The city region has a strong and long heritage of social innovators who also made their ideas work commercially; from Mary Seacole and Kitty Wilkinson in the 1800s to Baltic Creative and Future Yard’s #ThefutureisBirkenhead vision today. Our local social entrepreneurs are proving the delivery of a kinder and more inclusive economy is both possible and affordable when their ingenuity is supported within a collaborating community and access to appropriate investment is made possible.”

The working group is seeking feedback from local socially trading organisations, community businesses and the wider city region social economy, and anyone who would like to contribute should contact info@creativeeconomist.co.uk

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