Economic Justice

The Barrow Cadbury Trust believes that our economy, financial networks and institutions should be designedto build economic inclusion and not erode it. However, it is very clear that our current systems and structures have led to entrenched inequalities which successive shocks have made worse, not better.  We wish to increase  financial inclusion through innovation, partnerships across traditional boundaries, and by ensuring that those adversely affected by the current way our local and national economy is shaped have a hand in changing it. We consider that financial resilience and inequality in communities can only improve if economic systems operate sustainably both at a macro and local level.  

Theory of change: 

Although most people in the UK are better off today than in previous generationsmany struggle financiallyThe way our economy is structured has resulted in a growing divide between those that have enough and those that find it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.  The pandemic laid those inequalities bare and unless we address the root causes of economic injustice, poverty and hardship will remain entrenched.    Barriers to change include vested interests; the legacy of the austerity years; the enormous pressures on our national budget resulting from COVID-19; short-termism; and a disconnection between policy makers and the everyday experiences of those on the receiving end of failed economic policies. By working together across traditional boundaries to harness good ideas, build partnerships and ensure those with lived experience can influence policy, we can catalyse structuralchange. 

To date we have: 

  • Supported research and action that is building an inclusive economy in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands Combined Authority area; 
  • Enabled the voices of the least well off to be heard, and responded to, by those in positions of power; 
  • Built a body of evidence highlighting the impact of austerity and Brexit on financially excluded people and  those on low incomes and made recommendations on how their lives could be improved by practical or policy interventions. 

In 2021-22 we will be consolidating the progress made in previous years by focussing our funding on the creation of inclusive economies that reduce economic inequality, and on continuing to ensure that the voices of those experiencing financial exclusion are heard by those in positions of influence.   

By inclusive economies we mean local economic systems that benefit everyone, particularly those who are disadvantaged by structural inequality such as women, people from minority ethnic communities, those with lower level qualifications and disabled peopleInclusive economies have financial, social and environmental benefits and provide the basis for a healthy democracy.   We wish to catalyse the creation of better local economies by supporting work that will change how institutions (private businesses, statutory organisations, charities or community organisations and social enterprises) work together for the common good.  Engaging those with lived experience is essential to developing policy that works for all so we wish to support work that will enable people with lived experience to influence local and national economic policy.  

In all our programmes we aim to fund a coherent body of complementary work, rather than a collection of individual projects working on different issues.  So before approaching the Trust, potential applicants should review recent examples of activities we are currently funding or have funded to identify how their work fits with what we are already supporting.

All new work funded under this programme must be designed to influence policy at the national level (England- or UK-wide) or in Birmingham or the Black Country towns. We will not consider work based elsewhere unless influencing national policy is a substantial part of the project.   

For work at the national level we are interested in: 

  • Funding the development of an ecosystem that will help the creation of a more socially just economy.  This could, for example, include sharing learning or supporting infrastructure that will enable different sectors to work together.   
  • Distilling and learning lessons from the pandemic so that our economy can be “built back better”, for example by capturing and embedding examples of positive change in local economies.
  •  Developing evidence and practice demonstrating how structural change in local economies  can address inequalities relating to protected characteristics, particularly gender, race and disability.
  • Innovative ways of enabling those experiencing economic injustice to influence national policy and practice. 

 In Birmingham and the Black Country we are interested in: 

  • Supporting greater engagement of the voluntary and community sector and social enterprises in community wealth building/inclusive economies approaches.  
  • Supporting local infrastructure that will help build inclusive economies, in particular work that crosses sector boundaries and that will have an impact on those at particular risk of economic exclusion including women, disabled people and minority ethnic communities.
  • Enabling those experiencing economic injustice to influence local policy and practice.

Please note: 

  • In this programme we are looking to support structural work that will contribute to the transformation of local economies.  Grants to support individual social enterprises are out of scope.  
  • We rarely fund university research projects. Where we do, it is either (a) work we commission ourselves as part of building our evidence base for social change, or (b) is in partnership with a voluntary sector or social change organisation where the research is part of a long-term programme of work [focused on]  the systems change our programme seeks to achieve.
  • We expect all organisations we fund to demonstrate how their approach will reduce gender and racial inequality and how those with lived experience are involved in their work.
  • The climate crisis, environmental degradation and social justice are inextricably linked. We expect all organisations we fund to have considered and taken action to mitigate their contribution to climate change, whether that’s small actions such as setting annual improvement targets to reduce paper use or electricity, or larger contributions such as insulating buildings.  Please note that we do not fund climate change mitigation work in the Economic Justice programme. All applications must address the priorities set out above and be aimed at structural or systems change. 

Making an application

If you think your work fits Barrow Cadbury Trust’s Economic Justice programme objectives, criteria and theory of change please complete an enquiry form.  We will aim to respond to your enquiry form within 10 working days, or call our office on +44 (020) 7632 9060

Please only fill in an application form if you have already discussed your project with us and we have asked you to complete a full application.


Key Contacts

Debbie Pippard

Director of Programmes
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