Work on our Community Finance Resilience Fund is progressing well, and we wanted to let you know what to expect next, how you can keep in touch and what you can do now ahead of the fund opening for applications.
Thanks for your input
We’re establishing the £5m+ fund to support the resilience of the community finance sector and to help preserve the provision of affordable credit through the cost of living crisis – as a basis for future growth.
It’s important the fund is designed collaboratively with you, so a big thank you again to everyone who took part in our consultation over the summer. We really appreciate your time and insights which fed into the design principles that we’ve now agreed with our board.
What happens next?
Our focus over the next six weeks or so is to develop these design principles into a fully functioning fund, that’s open for applications and ready for the expected high demand.
We know it’s important to turn around applications and communicate decisions quickly and we’re aiming to make the process as efficient as possible.
We’re hoping to launch the fund in late October/early November, and we’ll be holding a webinar then to cover everything you need to know about the fund and how to apply.
We realise this is a very busy time of year for everybody, but we don’t think it’s right to wait until 2024 to launch the fund – the cost of living crisis is now and the funding has been allocated to be dispersed responsibly and as quickly as practically possible.
Things you can do now
As long as you meet the criteria, the fund will be open to both those community finance organisations we have already funded in some way and those we haven’t. We are intending to provide grant funding, but also some long-term debt investment where this is what’s needed.
We have tried to take on board the feedback about making both the application process and the supporting information needed as simple as possible. We have removed criteria around the size of your business and will base decisions on viability and sustainability.
Here are the minimum details all applicants will need to consider and evidence:
- Evidence you support customers in financially vulnerable circumstances, comply with subsidy rules and are focused on customers in England
- The grant funding is for resilience through the cost of living crisis, so a simple plan showing how this will your support your business through it and the impact the funding will have up to and beyond 2024
- For grant funding, be a not-for-profit community finance organisation (ie credit union, CDFI or associated organisation)
- Evidence of lending for at least 12 months
- Evidence your organisation is a going concern (with no recent material findings by an auditor)
- Details of any FOS complaints and their outcomes
- Commitment to quarterly reporting (similar to the previous Covid-19 Resilience Fund requirements
We are planning to accept evidence of increased operational costs (eg staff, energy, rent and other bills) from October 2022 through to September 2024. This should tie in with many of your end of year financials, and when we believe the cost of living crisis really started to begin hitting businesses and customers the hardest.
Thanks for taking the time to read this update and bearing with us as we finalise the details. We anticipate the fund will be popular in terms of applications, so hopefully a heads up on things to prepare for as a minimum will be helpful.
The next key milestone to look out for is the launch webinar and we’ll be back in touch when we have that date scheduled. We will look to give you as much notice as practically possible so you can attend.