A unique scheme is to be launched next week to help struggling charities and social enterprises in Brighton and Hove to the tune of £10,000 each.

The government-backed pilot will offer interest free loans as well as mentoring and expert consultancy.

And if successful it could be rolled out across the country.

The Social Enterprise Assist programme will be launched on Monday by the Charities Aid Foundation, Legal and General and the Minister for Social Enterprise Jo Swinson. It is being backed and supported by The Argus.

The Brighton and Hove pilot is funded by £65,000 from the Cabinet Office-funded Innovation in Giving Fund, managed by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), and £50,000 from Legal and General, and is designed to deliver crucial ‘social investment’ to a wide range of charities and not-for-profit organisations struggling to raise funding.

It will see fledgling social enterprises offered interest free loans of up to £10,000 as well as mentoring from Legal and General staff, and up to £5,000 worth of expert consultancy if required.

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), said: “Social enterprises have the power to tackle many intractable problems in our communities, but often flounder because commercial lenders regard them as too risky to support.

'Lack of funding'

“There is still a chronic lack of funding for fledgling social enterprises which are looking to expand.

“We need lenders to step in and back these dynamic social enterprises with hard cash and business advice so they have the support they need to succeed. These entrepreneurial organisations can make a massive difference, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Without this sort of backing the Government’s vision of a greater role for community groups, social enterprises and charities in delivering local services will remain aspirational.

“We need others in financial services to follow the great lead shown by Legal and General in providing start up capital and vital business advice which can get great projects off the ground.”

Graham Precey, head of CSR, Legal and General Group, said: “This new venture extends Legal and General's support for communities in Sussex to social enterprises building on our long-term support for charities and community groups.

“We are pleased to bring Nesta and CAF to the city to see the wonderful work that this community does to work on social and environmental issues.”