Tax relief fund boosts community enterprise

£150,000 SITR investment helps Gro-Organic sow the seeds of growth.

A West Midlands social enterprise that empowers people to reach their full potential through positive experiences to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing has been given a funding boost to help it deal with a rapid rise in referrals during Covid-19.

Queens Award winners Gro-Organic, formed in 2011 by social entrepreneur Sarah Treanor, has secured £150,000 from the Resonance Social Investment Tax Relief Fund and will immediately channel it into expanding its mentoring and support programmes across the region.

Last year, the organisation’s pioneering work supported more than 284 volunteers and nearly 6,000 service users, with its highly successful trading arm, Gro-Landscaping, seeing an equally impressive surge in demand for commercial, school and community projects.

“The Gro-Mentoring service has taken on even greater importance during the current pandemic and we’ve seen the number of family referrals treble since the start of lockdown,” explained Sarah.

“This was already building on one of our busiest years and lots of exciting plans to deliver more projects that create transferrable skills and improve community cohesion.

She continued: “That was the reason why we approached Resonance to see if we could access additional investment through its Social Investment Tax Relief Fund, which offers us a low rate of interest, whilst giving our investors up to 30% back in tax relief.”

“I’m delighted we have been able to secure investment to support our commitment to helping more people and this will be directed into new equipment, new expert assistance and recruitment and development of our specialist teams.”

Resonance launched its SITR Fund in February 2018, bringing £5 million of investment to help the region’s social enterprises dismantle poverty and fight inequality.

The fund offers unsecured loans over a six-year term, interest only for the first three years, making it an ideal vehicle for organisations looking to maximise their social impact.

Social Investment Tax Relief has leveraged over £14million in private investment to help 88 social enterprises deliver essential services across the UK.

It is the only tax break specifically aimed at social enterprises and is designed to encourage individuals to support the sector by helping them access new sources of repayable finance, with backers receiving a 30% tax break when investing into an eligible organisation.

However, enterprises and social investors are now urging the Government and Treasury Minister Jesse Norman to not backtrack on their promise to level up the UK’s cities and regions by scrapping SITR, which has a proven record of unlocking and directing private capital into some of the most disadvantaged places in the country.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who has called for Social Interest Tax Relief to be retained, concluded: “It is welcome news that Gro-Organic has been awarded this funding – it is a great example of how social enterprises, groups, organisations and charities in the social economy put the needs of local people before profit and make a real difference in our communities.

“Our focus now must be on defeating COVID-19, but as we deal with the impact of the pandemic on the lives of local people, the work of social enterprises like Gro-Organic is going to be even more vital.

“Social Interest Tax Relief is hugely important to the health of the social economy here and retaining it will be vital if we are to achieve our ambition of doubling its size.”

For further information, visit gro-mentoring or getsitr.