A £1.5 million fund to support people in England back into work after time out caring. Voluntary and community sector groups, training providers, local enterprise partnerships, academic institutions, local authorities and private sector organisations are eligible.
The Returners Fund offers grants to projects which help people to return to work in the private sector. These projects could help returners update their skills, provide other training, or support businesses to increase employment opportunities for returners. The fund will prioritise projects that focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), employers outside of London, and projects that support returners at all skill levels. This is part of the government’s wider strategy to develop the evidence base on what may help to close the gender pay gap.
In the Spring Budget of 2017, the Prime Minister committed £5 million to “promote returnships to the public and private sectors, helping people back into employment after a career break.” This funding has been allocated to the Government Equalities Office (GEO) for the purpose of:
- better understanding the returner cohort, what barriers it faces and what employers can do to harness its skills and experience;
- increasing understanding of what is most effective in getting returners back to work across the private sector and in particular employment sectors;
- increasing public awareness of the skills and experience returners offer; and
- increasing the number of employment opportunities available to returners.
Grants are available for organisations to run projects aimed at returners that:
- create new job opportunities within the private sector and targeted employment sectors, including retail; law; tech and telecoms; science, technology, engineering and maths industries; creative industries;
- could not otherwise be established by the market;
- address specific barriers for returners and can be replicated at scale;
- can demonstrate self-sustainability beyond the initial funding period of the grant;
- increase understanding of how best to support a) returners to gain paid employment and b) employers to recruit and support returners.
Approximately 15-18 projects will be selected in total.
The GEO is particularly interested to receive project applications that focus on at least one of the following:
- returners to paid employment outside London (full or part-time);
- non-graduate returners and/or those returning to non-professional employment;
- people with the following protected characteristics:
- BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic)
- Older workers (aged 50+)
- returners who have been out of paid employment for 10 years or more, and
- creating employment opportunities for returners in SMEs.
Grants will be paid monthly in arrears. Therefore, all applicants must have a secure cash flow – a minimum of three months’ operating costs held in reserve – to ensure the lead organisation’s financial security
The upper limit for grants is £300,000. However, it is anticipated the majority of awards to be between £50,000 and £150,000.
Expressions of interest for the first round of bidding must be submitted by 30 March 2018