SOCIAL enterprises in Herefordshire are being encouraged to apply for their share of the final round of The Social Enterprise Support Fund, which opens for applications at 10am today, Thursday, September 10.

More than £4m of support is still available as part of the fund, which was established in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and delivered through five support agencies, including Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Community Land & Finance CIC (also known as Resonance), the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka.

In excess of £14m is in the process of being awarded to 400 social enterprises across England with the remaining money in place to help social ventures weather the 'perfect storm' they face from Covid-19, increased demand for their services, a global recession and the end of short-term Government support.

Eligibility has also been widened for the last round of the fund to include organisations with an annual income of between £20,000 and £1.8million, with grants ranging from £10,000 up to £300,000.

Daniel Brewer, CEO of Resonance, said: "From the first two rounds of funding we have seen applications from a diverse range of enterprises in the West Midlands, who were in critical need of funding to help them recover from COVID-19.

"Their commitment, passion and energy to adapt and react to this crisis, whilst continuing to deliver essential services to their communities and the most vulnerable in society, really has been an inspiration to us."

He continued: "This is the final opportunity to apply to the fund, so therefore we are encouraging all Herefordshire enterprises who qualify and require financial support to apply as soon as possible."

According to recent research, a quarter of social enterprises in the UK have cash flow for just three months or fewer. As the furlough scheme and other short-term support ends, four in ten social enterprises say the outlook for their business over the next six months looks uncertain .

With this in mind, it is no surprise that The Social Enterprise Fund has so far received nearly 900 applications and, by September 8, had agreed to support over 400 social enterprises across England.

It has also made a commitment to ensuring that the grants reach enterprises that are led by people most impacted by Coronavirus, with more than 70% of those funded to date being organisations who are using the money to keep critical services running or are transitioning to dealing with life during Coronavirus.