2018 marked the first full year of our new funding strategy and guidelines. We are now providing grant funding in seven programme areas, as well as continuing to provide social investment. We were able to make grants and provide grant related funding, to tackle poverty and inequality, totalling £10.4 million and social investments totalling £350,000 due to the strong performance of our endowment, which now stands at £321 million.
Over the last year this has allowed us to launch new initiatives that support our ambition to strengthen the voicof those who are experts by experience. A new disability rights initiative funds and brings together Deaf and Disabled People-led organisations to advance equal rights for Deaf and Disabled Londoners, a group that has been disproportionately affected by austerity.
We have also funded an initiative to assess how the current Social Security System can be improved to better assist those in need. The Commission on Social Security led by Experts by Experience, will produce a White Paper style document which will set out a way forward and help to build a consensus around this.
The Commission is user led and all the Commissioners are people who are on or have been on benefits.
Working with the Mayor of London, we’ve also launched the London Housing Panel. This brings together voluntary and community organisations that focus on housing in London. The Panel, which will be independent of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Trust, will look at the housing issues faced by Londoners and provide the civil society sector with a structured way of engaging with the GLA in relation to housing policy.
The work we do, and the decisions to launch new initiatives, are grounded in evidence of what is working and what needs
to change. To help us with this and to build the evidence base, we commission a range of research. Recently we published a report on living standards by Loughborough University which showed that 4 in 10 Londoners cannot afford a minimum socially acceptable standard of living because of the high costs of housing, childcare and transport.
Despite the scale of the issues, the groups we work with and fund, have continued to help improve the lives of millions of Londoners, especially the small groups that exist across the capital, with 73% of our funding in 2018 going to organisations with a turnover of less than £1 million. They do vital work and provide steady support across London and it is important to recognise the progress they make each and every year.
We look to the year ahead having moved to new offices and welcomed three new members to our team. We also eagerly await the launch of a revamped London’s Poverty Profile which provides data on London’s poverty and inequality issues. The new Poverty Profile, which will be produced by WPI Economics, will be updated on a much more regular basis, helping guide our work and continuing to provide an invaluable resource for policymakers and the voluntary sector.
We are confident that in the year ahead, the new initiatives and the civil society organisations we have funded will benefit many more Londoners and will help to come up with new solutions to some of London’s most pressing social issues.