Bank that of­fers loans with a heart

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

THE BOSS of a com­mu­nity fund­ing bank has said more char­i­ties and com­mu­nity groups should be ben­e­fit­ting from his bank’s in­ter­est free loans scheme.

Guy Birkby, who is the in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive at the Heart of Bucks, which ad­min­is­ters Bucks Big So­ci­ety Bank, says he thinks many groups are miss­ing out on ways to fund their or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Bucks Big So­ci­ety Bank bank pro­vides low-cost loan funds for smaller vol­un­tary, com­mu­nity and so­cial en­ter­prise or­gan­i­sa­tions in all parts of the county, and was de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Com­mu­nity Im­pact Bucks and The Clare Foun­da­tion. It has lent tens of thou­sands of pounds since be­ing founded in March 2011, fol­low­ing an ini­tial in­vest­ment of £75,000 from Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil.

Mr Birkby said: “There is a lot of money avail­able at very cheap rates and we are keen to lend it to de­serv­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“We know there are about 4,000 char­i­ties in the county and yet, in the four years of the bank’s ex­is­tence, only a very small num­ber have taken loans.”

Mr Birkby, who was a se­nior bank ex­ec­u­tive for many years, added: “It’s a rel­a­tively easy process, so my mes­sage is for wor­thy groups to start ap­ply­ing now. I think this is a mat­ter of aware­ness, so we are try­ing to vig­or­ously get the mes­sage out there to alert char­ity trustees that this source of fund­ing ex­ists.”

Or­gan­i­sa­tions el­i­gi­ble for fund­ing need to be based in Buck­ing­hamshire and be pro­vid­ing ser­vices or sup­port just for lo­cal res­i­dents. The loans, start­ing from £1,000 to £30,000, may be used for a va­ri­ety of pur­poses in­clud­ing equip­ment and premises cost. They could also be used as a bridg­ing loan while the group awaits other funds.

There are no re­quire­ments for se­cu­rity or le­gal fees and it is an ex­tremely cheap way of rais­ing fi­nance as groups pay no in­ter­est. The suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions do have to show they can ser­vice the debt and then pay an ad­min­is­tra­tion fee, charged on a slid­ing scale be­gin­ning at 4% and re­duc­ing to 1% by year four – and this is the only cost.

Martin Phillips, cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and public health, said: “We know our money has been put to great work by the or­gan­i­sa­tions that have bor­rowed from us, and I now hope that many more peo­ple come for­ward to ap­ply for fund­ing.”

Call 01296 330134 or email Gbirkby@buckscf. org.uk.

LEND­ING A HAND: AYMP Man­ager Rob Shirley shows Heart of Bucks Chief Exec Guy Birkby & BCC’s Martin Phillips the ropes

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