The first round of a new national funding programme to help VCSE organisations bring people and communities in England together as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic is open for applications.

A national emergency loan fund established with an initial investment of £25 million from Big Society Capital is inviting applications from UK-based social enterprises and charities.

The fund aims to support social-sector organisations working to improve people’s lives in the UK that are facing a problem because expected income and activity has been delayed or disrupted as a result of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. The fund offers emergency loans that can be used as working capital until an organisation’s normal business can commence again. The loans will have no fees or interest for the first 12 months.

Eligible organisations include:

  • Registered charities.
  • Social enterprises.
  • Community interest companies (CICs).
  • Community benefit societies.

Organisations must also meet the following criteria:

  • Be UK-based (ie trade in the UK and the loan will be used to support trading in the UK).
  • Have been trading for a minimum of two years.
  • Have a turnover of between £400,000 and £45 million.
  • Have more than 50% of income from trading activity.
  • Be able to confirm that the they have been adversely affected by coronavirus/COVID-19.
  • Demonstrate they have a viable business, if it weren’t for the pandemic.
  • Be able to confirm that the organisation was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’.
  • Be able to demonstrate that outcomes of the product or services provided are specifically relevant to improving people’s lives, even if improving people’s lives is a secondary outcome area of the organisation.
  • Be able to confirm that the loan will not be used in an excluded sector.

Loans of between £100,000 and £1.5 million are available for a term of one to five years.

The deadline for applications is 11.59pm on 31 January 2021.

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