Access Foundation reveals timeline for distribution of new £20m from dormant assets

The UK government this week confirms new dormant assets funding as outlined in its Levelling Up plans, as Access stresses importance of blended finance approach to reach poorest communities.

The UK government has this week confirmed the Access Foundation will receive £20m from dormant bank accounts to be invested in social ventures serving the most deprived communities in England. The money will reach frontline organisations towards the end of 2022.

The measure had first been put forward in last week’s Levelling Up white paper as the government outlined its strategy to tackle inequalities between different regions of the UK.

Access will channel the money towards charities and social enterprises through a blended finance programme akin to the Growth Fund, a £50m partnership which uses a combination of grants and loans and which has supported 600 investments since its inception six years ago. Half the fund, a partnership between Access, Big Society Capital and the National Lottery Community Fund, was invested in England’s 30% most deprived neighbourhoods.

Seb Elsworth, CEO of Access, said: “Communities need the support that charities and social enterprises can provide, creating vital jobs and addressing entrenched social problems. But too often, they can struggle to get the finance they need to innovate or grow. 

“The additional £20 million from dormant assets will help us and our partners to deliver the small-scale loans that most charities and social enterprises need and further target investment into places and communities that have been previously overlooked.”

The investment will target social enterprises and charities in deprived communities that are seeking to grow or diversify their business models, and typically haven’t taken on social investment before.

Access will make the £20m available to social investment intermediaries as grants, which will be matched with loan funding raised from other investors to offer blended finance products to social ventures on the ground. Financing will mostly take the form of small, flexible unsecured loans.

Because of its reach into communities, blended finance is now an essential part of the social investment market

Elsworth added: “Because of its reach into communities, blended finance is now an essential part of the social investment market. This builds on the work we and others have done to date.”

Social investors will be invited to apply to the programme in the spring and social enterprises and charities are expected to start receiving investment under the new scheme by the end of this year, Access told Pioneers Post.


Levelling Up

The new round of dormant assets funding is part of the UK government’s Levelling Up strategy. The new policy will see a total of £44m from dormant bank accounts invested in the Youth Futures Foundation (£20m), Access Foundation (£20m) and Fair4All Finance (£4m).

Dormant assets are funds held in banks or building society accounts that have not seen any activity for more than 15 years and where owners cannot be tracked down. More than £800m has been invested so far, including £425m used to establish Big Society Capital in 2012. A bill currently making its way through parliament could unlock an additional £880m such assets, although the government hasn’t yet established who would benefit from them.

Nigel Huddleston, UK minister for sport, tourism, civil society and youth, said: “This latest £44 million allocation from the Dormant Assets Scheme will make a real difference to people’s lives in communities across England. As well as helping young people find jobs, it will also provide financial support to those that need it the most.”


Top picture: Ebikebrum, a community cycle café and shop, secured £83k from Key Fund under the Growth Fund, to expand its community activities and purchase new equipment. Ebikebrum delivers healthy lifestyle activities and cycling programmes in deprived communities in Birmingham.

Thanks for reading Pioneers Post. As an entrepreneur or investor yourself, you'll know that producing quality work doesn't come free. We rely on our subscribers to sustain our journalism – so if you think it's worth having an independent, specialist media platform that covers social enterprise stories, please consider subscribing. You'll also be buying social: Pioneers Post is a social enterprise itself, reinvesting all our profits into helping you do good business, better.