Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announces potential £5 million support for social economy

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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.
24 Oct, 2019

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 the 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

Notes to Editors

About Liverpool City Region’s Social Economy

The Heseltine Institute 2017 report, The Scale and Scope of the Social Economy in Liverpool City Region, can be found here.

The Heseltine Institute’s 2019 report, Growth, sustainability and purpose in the community business market in the Liverpool City Region, describes the size of the region’s social sector, and can be accessed here

About the Strategic Investment Fund

The Strategic Investment Fund is a new approach to how the Combined Authority funds projects. It recognises the importance of building communities that are fit for purpose and puts social value at the heart of what it does. The Combined Authority has ambitious plans to make sure that inclusivity is at the heart of that growth and great projects are delivered in every borough.  The investment team have a role to play in delivering these plans. We need to look at how projects can help to accelerate inclusive growth, create more innovative delivery models and deliver impact across the region. Simply investing is great projects is not enough; we must deliver as a region, public body and as individuals.

The relaunch of the SIF has created an opportunity to do things differently whilst building on the successes of previous funding initiatives.  As we look at potential projects, our guiding rule is that investment should deliver impact first and return second. Both are crucial elements to developing a portfolio of projects that help us, as the CA, to deliver on our strategic objectives. There are two ways to improve a project’s value for money: improve its economic, environmental and social performance or improve its financial performance. We will seek to do both to every project.

Further details on the Fund’s work to date can be found here

About Power to Change

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector is worth £1.05 billion, and comprises 7,800 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2018)

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015. @peoplesbiz

For more information please contact: Alex Valk 07384 812777

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

About Erika Rushton – Creative Economist

Erika Rushton has worked in place-based regeneration within the North West since 1988 supporting people to create their own jobs, businesses and whole economies. As well as her work in Liverpool Erika is supporting Islington Mill in Greater Manchester to establish a Cultural Community Land Trust spanning two hectares; and working with Hafod Housing to stimulate community led  economic activities in the Welsh Valleys. Erika has Chaired Baltic Creative CIC since its inception in 2009, chaired Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust from 2013 to 2017, and has recently joined the Board of the proposed North West Mutual Community Bank.

By harnessing the ideas and action of local people Creative Economist has consistently filled underused spaces and places with homegrown businesses. Whether working with individual creative and mission-driven businesses; organisations who want to have social impact; or communities and strategic partners setting out to regenerate a whole village, town or city, Creative Economist consistently equips local people to deliver economic growth and unique place identity that becomes self-perpetuating

About Helen Heap – Seebohm Hill

Helen is a social investor and the founder and CEO of Seebohm Hill Ltd, a Liverpool-based social investment consultancy. She has co-authored a number of papers and a book on social finance and has undertaken detailed research on the social economy of the Liverpool City Region and north west England. Helen is a Visiting Fellow at The Heseltine Institute for Public Policy & Practice, Chair of Governors for Studio@Deyes, a non-executive director of Lydiate Learning Trust and a Trustee of Local Solutions.

Seebohm Hill works to bring together the skills, capabilities and financial resources within the local business community to enable social organisations to provide innovative solutions to societal problems. Using an analytical approach to understand what is required, we look to fund early stage, community-based social organisations with risk capital that is sufficiently patient that it will support and develop a financially sustainable enterprise, even in very challenging market conditions.