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Friday, 19 December 2014

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New 'impact fund' to help social businesses and charities in Cumbria

Plans are being drawn up to secure millions of pounds to help boost and expand the work of Cumbrian charities and social enterprises.

George Beveridge  photo
George Beveridge

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is setting up a ‘local impact fund’ to offer loans, grants and support to social enterprises and trading charities.

The country’s first local impact fund was launched this week in Liverpool, where £2 million is being invested to help local charities and non-profit organisations.

The aim is to help them scale up, create jobs and take on public sector services to improve communities.

Members of Cumbria LEP were in Merseyside to hold talks about plans for their own fund ahead of yesterday’s event.

Eleven LEPs around the country, including Cumbria, are working to form their own local impact funds to help boost social enterprise and charities working in the voluntary sector.

Around £100m is expected to be invested in such funds by 2015 across the UK, with a share of the cash set to come to the county.

George Beveridge, chairman of the Cumbria LEP, said: “Social enterprises are an increasingly important part of our economic structure and can play a key role in may ways, not least in supporting development in more disadvantaged areas.

“As part of our wider LEP planning for future European funding, we’re working up plans for a Local Impact Fund for Cumbria.

“Our intention is that this would support social enterprises and trading charities operating in the more deprived areas of the county, through a mix of loans and grants, to start, grow and enhance their sustainability – in doing so creating jobs, social impact and enhanced Gross Value Added.”

Val Jones, chief executive of Social Enterprise North West, said at the event in Liverpool: “Three in four social enterprises tell us that lack of finance is preventing them scaling up the good work they do.

“Local Impact Funds will give them the scale of funding they need to realise their ambitions, creating jobs, growth and improved services tailored to the needs of their communities.”

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