Applications are now closed for our our Community Finance Resilience Fund.
Thank you to all the community finance organisations that have applied.
Note to applicants: please make sure you have uploaded the required documents by 5pm on Friday 9th February to ensure your application is reviewed in the first wave.
If you have any problems or questions in uploading your documents or meeting this timeframe then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know that community finance organisations and their borrowers continue to face huge challenges from the cost of living crisis. To help meet these challenges and support both resilience and sustainability, we’ve established the Community Finance Resilience Fund (the ‘Fund’).
On this page you will find:
- More information about the Community Finance Resilience Fund
- Apply to the Fund
- Community Finance Resilience Fund webinar
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Key documents you need to complete your application
- Deadline information
- Types of funding available
- Eligibility requirements
- Other support and funding opportunities from Fair4All Finance
Additional funding from the Dormant Assets Scheme allocated for cost of living support has allowed us to do this. A big thank you to everyone in the community finance sector who generously gave up time to participate in our consultation process earlier in the year; it was extremely helpful in helping us design the Fund.
The Fund will provide £5m+ of grant and investment funding to community finance organisations (ie credit unions, CDFIs, and associated organisations) to:
- Improve the resilience of the community finance sector in England
- Preserve and scale affordable credit provision in England
You can find further information about the following below:
- Key documents to help you prepare for making an application below, including the application guide and the financial form required for grant applications
- Deadlines for applications
- The types of funding available and who is eligible to apply
- Other Fair4All Finance support and funding available for the community finance sector beyond the Fund
When preparing to make an application, we recommend reading the application guide first as this provides further details regarding the eligibility criteria and sets out the questions that will be asked in the application form
Community Finance Resilience Fund webinar
Use these buttons to download the relevant documents
Deadline for applications
We will currently be accepting applications up until 31 January 2024. We may extend this deadline further for some or all types of funding available under the Fund.
Types of funding available
|Type of funding
|£10k – £50k
|To support current organisational resilience by contributing to increased and unplanned operational costs as a result of the cost of living crisis
To support future organisational resilience by contributing to infrastructure costs
|£50k – £250k
Contributions towards increased costs for staff, energy, rent and other bills from October 2022 to September 2024
Contributions towards new business infrastructure needed for future resilience eg develop credit scorecards, improve compliance systems (not an exhaustive list!)
|Capital adequacy investment for credit unions
|£200k – £500k
|Subordinated debt or deferred shares to support credit unions to maintain compliance with capital asset ratios and/or support liquidity
|Other Cost of Living Resilience Funding
(Expressions of Interest)
|£50k – £500k
|Opportunity for all eligible credit unions and CDFIs to provide expressions of interest regarding other funding (grant, debt, otherwise) that meets the Fund’s objectives
Who is eligible to apply
To access the funding your organisation will need to evidence/commit to the following:
- Be purposeful about supporting borrowers in vulnerable financial circumstances fairly
- Focus on serving borrowers living in England
- For any grant funding, be a not-for-profit community finance organisation (ie credit union, CDFI, associated organisation)
For the small grants, you will need to either confirm or provide the following pre-qualification details:
- Already lending (at least since October 2022)
- Very low FOS complaints which are live or upheld
- Commitment to the Affordable Credit Code of Good Practice
- Be able to evidence serving borrowers in vulnerable financial circumstances
- Commitment to quarterly reporting on key financial and social impact metrics (similar to the Covid-19 Resilience Fund. Note that some funding can be provided to support this)
- Going concern (with no recent material findings by your auditor)
- Evidence of increased operational costs (including staff, energy, rent and other bills) from October 2022 to Sept 2024 – these are the costs the grant funding will go towards. These must be costs that are not otherwise externally funded
- A (high level) plan or narrative to either reduce costs or increase income beyond Sept 2024, essentially explaining how this funding will not become a dependency
For larger funding requests, more information will be needed – proportional to the requested amount.
What other Fair4All Finance support and funding is available for the community finance sector?
As we get close to the launch of the Community Finance Resilience fund it seems like an opportune moment to pick up on something that got fed back when we did the resilience fund consultation in the summer, which can be summarised as what else can you support with and how do I go about approaching you to ask or find out more.
Firstly, never be afraid to ask and the statement ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ holds a lot of truth. However, we know its helpful when we’re clear on how and when we can support you. For those working in the community finance sector your first contact should always be email@example.com, who will ensure the right people get involved to participate in whatever is received.
A lot of what we get involved in is sometimes hard to clearly define, some of the work is often working through the options or at some level a work in progress, but that’s fine – we like helping out with the options and choices. Our current support and funding programmes for the community finance sector include:
Community Finance Resilience Fund
£5m+ of grant and investment funding to community finance organisations (credit unions, CDFIs, and associated organisations) to:
- improve the resilience of the community finance sector
- to preserve and scale affordable credit provision
More details and how to apply on our website
Deploying this funding is a key focus for our investment team late 2023 and into 2024. Following this deployment, we may reopen our Scale Up programme to new applications.
Over the past three years, we have committed £33m to scale up affordable credit provision and another £4m through our Covid-19 Resilience Fund to preserve affordable credit provision during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are huge supporters of the work being done by the various social purpose driven fintechs (including Inbest, Policy in Practice, Lightning Reach) that identify when somebody likely has some unclaimed benefit or grant entitlement. We know that £19 billion goes unclaimed in the UK each year and we’ve see that the use of benefit calculator tools, on average, deliver c£450 a month of unclaimed benefits to customers in vulnerable circumstances when integrated in lending journeys.
This is not just a solution for declines, but everybody, as many working people on lower incomes believe they are not entitled to any benefits. The amount awarded can be significant and really transform someone’s financial resilience.
We can support community finance providers with API integration and we work with Loan Management System providers to integrate benefit calculators and grant finders within lending journeys, decline outcomes and member portal journeys. We can potentially also cover licencing fees and usage fees for a certain period, with a fixed price.
Contact Ayesha Begum Ayesha@fair4allfinance.org.uk to find out more and how we may be able to help.
Mergers and acquisition
We have supported a handful of credit union mergers, including with grant funding to support merger costs. These are most successful where there has been a clear strategic alignment and cultural fit between the organisations which were both financially viable and were serving our target customer base of people in vulnerable financial circumstances.
We hope that further strategic mergers will help increase the regional strength of credit unions and achieve greater economies of scale. If you would like to discuss a business combination opportunity where you think Fair4All Finance could help, please contact Kate Pender firstname.lastname@example.org
We have allocated £5m of funding for technology solutions. This work covers our plans around diversifying the choices available to community finance for technology solutions. Our initial focus has been core banking or loan management systems. To date we have made one investment in Singlify who already provide a Salesforce based loan management system to business lending CDFIs. Our funding will enable them to adapt their system to the specific needs of credit unions.
We are considering expanding our work in this area to cover technology to support shared service models including CUSOs, referral and aggregator platforms.
Customer insights and marketing information
Our segmentation research identified there are at least 17.5m people in financially vulnerable circumstances and we have identified six core segments that are underserved in the market today.
We have a range of segmentation materials available and have already worked with several credit unions and CDFIs to share data and deeper insights to help further understand which customer groups they are serving well today and where there is an opportunity to serve different customer groups. This includes information on product needs and marketing preferences.
We don’t currently offer one to one marketing support for organisations, as we are working on awareness raising initiatives for the whole sector – see below.
We do have a PR toolkit that allows community finance providers to use press release templates to generate local media coverage.
What else are we supporting?
In addition to the areas that we have the capacity to support with direct funding, we also have a number of initiatives that are designed as a supportive resource. These cover a range of things from investment into the development of people to guides on a mix of strategic and operational areas that highlight best practice from the range of people and businesses we interact with.
As part of our commitment to making the financial system fairer for everyone, Fair4All Finance, in partnership, with Estu and Studious, has developed a learning program for leaders in financial services, initially focusing on community finance to help grow the sectors capabilities. With input and feedback from our stakeholder consultations with the community finance sector we have developed this pilot programme.
The pilot will test a leadership programme, so we can learn what works, what doesn’t and how we can best design any further learning programs. It is designed for senior leaders, CEO and board members within the community finance sector and potentially future leaders identified within their businesses.
Places on the initial pilot will be fully funded and modules will be designed to align to funding opportunities to maximise accessibility of any future programme. This programme is running this autumn with a cohort of 16 community finance leaders.
There is a waitlist to join future cohorts. Please contact Laura Kaye email@example.com
Raising awareness of the community finance sector
In 2023, we worked closely with the sector to drive consumer awareness at both and local and national level, and strategically looking to influence major stakeholders and policymakers through informed PR campaigns. This resulted in national TV, radio and press coverage as well as dozens of local newspaper articles.
An important part of this work is measuring the impact our activities are having in terms of membership growth, recognition of the sector and members and customers using services that will sustain and hopefully grow the sector.
We are now investing a second phase of our awareness raising work and look forward to sharing more details on what we are planning on this early in 2024. To maximise the impact of this work, we need to work closely with the sector to understand your needs, generate compelling stories and to access consumer case studies as these have a huge impact with the media. If you’d like to be involved in this work in 2024 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Best practice guides and resources
In the coming months, we will be publishing best practice guides developed with the community finance sector including: Strategic Sustainability guide for credit unions, Good Practice Lending guide, merger guidance and guide to appointing technology suppliers. More to come!
We’re currently piloting our No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and Consolidation Lending products.