Local community businesses, co-operatives, and socially-minded enterprises will soon have the chance to apply for a share of a new £4 million innovative finance fund – thanks to a new partnership between the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) and community business champions, Power to Change. The ‘Social Finance Fund’ is part of a wider £15 million investment, from the NTCA, to support businesses to develop new and inventive products and services.

NTCA and Power to Change are seeking input from socially trading organisations across the North East, to help co-design the new fund and partnership by sharing their expertise and insights through a ‘Call for Evidence’, which opens this week and runs until 13 May.

Mayor of the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll, said:

We don’t believe in a top-down way of doing things. The whole point of devolution is to bring powers close to people. We know there’s a need for an economy that works better for local people. We know there are people that want more socially trading organisations and workers’ co-ops.   

We’re announcing a dedicated £4million Social Finance Fund specifically for local businesses working to improve our region and communities. But this only works if it’s a partnership between us and the people we’re funding so we need you to come forward with your ideas. This fund will help the co-ops and community businesses thrive and we need your help to shape it.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Investment and Resources and Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside Council, Cllr Carl Johnson, said:

Social Enterprises have a critical role in the creation of a more inclusive local economy.  As Social Enterprise UK have shown, they are more diverse organisations and employ more women and people from minority communities than other businesses, with a greater proportion of these in leadership roles.

Tim Davies-Pugh, Interim CEO of Power to Change said:

Socially trading organisations, including community businesses, play incredibly important roles in local economies. Rooted in the areas they serve, these organisations directly address the needs of their communities. They also give local people more opportunities to actively participate in, and benefit from, economic activity, even in the poorest communities.

We look forward to working in this exciting partnership with the North of Tyne Combined authority to create a more inclusive economy through the development of the fund.

NTCA and Power to Change will also be collaborating with the Insights NE initiative at Newcastle University that will contribute their regional academic expertise to inform the development of the fund.

Local community businesses, co-operatives and enterprises with a social mission across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle can find out more, and help shape the new fund by contributing to the Call for Evidence. Through co-designing with the sector, it is hoped that these new initiatives will bring greater economic stability and resilience to the North of Tyne region.