£76 million will go to those struggling with the cost of living, support getting out of debt, no-interest loans and assisting social enterprises with innovative energy saving solutions.

In England, Scheme is being expanded to include community wealth funds, pots of money that will allow local residents to improve their communities.

50 women’s organisations co-signed WRC’s response to the Dormant Assets consultation last year. In it, we pushed for the recognition of women and girls in the priority groups already identified as the main recipients of the fund: young people, those in financial difficulty and social investment actors. We also argued for a women’s fund, based on the fact that women’s inequality is a major cause and consequence of the main inequalities outlined for support; women’s sector involvement in distributing the funds would greatly increase the reach of funds to the most marginalised and excluded communities, too.  

The government did not seem to take on board any of our concerns. The low ambition of ‘more affordable debt’, and the irony of the fact that there is a big emphasis on and getting people to manage their personal finances better during a cost-of-living crisis, when in fact it’s money itself that’s in short supply, is not lost on us. However, there may be some opportunities to influence a new element of the fund, which diverts some money to ‘community wealth funds’. This was championed by many in the sector, as a way of giving more money to grassroots charity work. The technicalities of how these community wealth funds will work to distribute funds is yet to be decided. WRC will be responding to try and ensure the women’s sector is not overlooked. 

“A community wealth fund is a pot of money distributed to communities in deprived areas and released over a long time period, with local residents empowered to make decisions on how to use the money.”

Opportunities for the women’s sector

Charities have the chance to access funds from a pot of £31 million, distributed by social investors Access and Big Society Capital to retrofit premises with cleaner, greener, and more efficient energy systems, such as new boilers or heat pumps, solar panels, and new lighting. If you are interested in applying for these funds, check out this website for more information: https://www.goodfinance.org.uk/

Access - The Foundation for Social Investment wrote that: "These funds aren’t actually live yet. The allocation has been awarded to Access and Big Society Capital, but the money hasn’t been distributed to social investors yet.  That process will happen during the spring, and we’d hope that there will be an opportunity for charities and social enterprises to start to apply for finance (will be in the form of a mix of loan and grant) by the summer – with the funds expected to be available through until well into 2024 (although this depends on demand and how quickly the finance is applied for and spent)."

The whole world of social investment may be new to some of you, so this website also includes a tool that asks some questions about whether it’s right for you, and directs you to possible funding streams. https://www.goodfinance.org.uk/is-it-right-for-us

In the meantime, we will use every opportunity to lobby decision-makers and possible funders of the community wealth funds on the inclusion of women and women’s organisations in this scheme.  

For more information: