How delivering SME finance is vital to achieving the ‘Levelling Up Agenda’

The UK government is committed to levelling up across the whole of the country to ensure that no community is left behind, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a nutshell, the ‘Levelling Up Agenda’ aims for a more even spread of economic and social opportunities across the country.

In order to achieve this, the UK government has launched three new investment programmes in collaboration with local partners to address the challenges and opportunities communities are facing right across the UK.

This will support regeneration of town centres and high streets, increase employment opportunities, improve local transport links, invest in local culture and give communities a stronger voice to retain local assets that might otherwise be lost.

Our commitment to levelling up

BCRS Business Loans understands that small businesses are a force for social good in the communities they serve, which is why, now more than ever, we are committed to delivering funding to SMEs as they look to initiate growth and recovery plans following the pandemic.

But our commitment to supporting the Levelling Up Agenda is much more targeted than simply delivering finance to small businesses across the West Midlands region, as we explain below…

Our lending

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), social and economic impact is at the heart of everything we do at BCRS. Therefore, not only to do we support businesses that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders, but we are also championing funding propositions that will bring long-term social and economic to local communities. This could include creating or safeguarding local jobs, investing in training and development, expansion and much more.

BCRS is proud to be a delivery partner for regional funds such as the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF), which have been established to address the regional access to finance imbalances in the UK and achieve the government’s Levelling Up Agenda.

Ultimately, we believe that ‘no viable business should go unsupported’ and focus on delivering funding into under-served communities, geographies and areas – with 42% of our lending in the 2021 financial year being dispersed into the UK’s most disadvantaged areas. This in turn created 132 new jobs for local people, protected 612 existing jobs and injected £28.8 million into the West Midlands regional economy.

Small businesses not only help to create long-lasting employment opportunities, but they also support personal and professional development to improve career and life prospects for individuals living in disadvantaged areas.

Local projects

In addition to the impact we generate via our lending to small businesses, we also like to support local projects and initiatives that are going to benefit the areas we cover.

  • We are proud to support grassroots football teams in our local community. We are current sponsors of Wyrley Panthers, an 11-a-side girls football team based in Great Wyrley and have previously sponsored Worcester City FC’s Under-18s and reserves youth football teams.
  • BCRS actively encourages volunteering within its team to achieve goals that aren’t necessarily accomplished through our normal lending activity. For example, Tony Wood, our head of credit, is currently volunteering at The Canal & River Trust and dedicates an afternoon per month to helping the charity complete maintenance work.
  • As a Co-operative ourselves, BCRS is passionate about supporting co-operative sustainable energy projects. Offering a scheme whereby BCRS invests £1,000 of withdrawable share capital in such organisations, we have recently invested in Ludlow Hydro and Community Energy Birmingham.

Click here to find out more about BCRS Business Loans.

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