By Daniel Hunter

Lloyds Banking Group is to announce a new commitment to help tackle social, educational and business issues faced by communities across the UK.

The Group is backing Business in the Community’s Business Connectors initiative, which aims to deploy the expertise of employees from UK businesses, to help identify and resolve local problems faced across the country, through the creation of long-term partnerships between organisations and the voluntary sector.

The scheme has been piloted over the past six months, but rolls out nationally today (Thursday).

As part of its commitment to the new scheme Lloyds Banking Group will invest £200,000 in infrastructure and training for the new secondees and will place up to 20 employees as secondees in communities across the UK, over the next three years.

The secondees will be senior members of staff who will work on the ground in areas most in need across the country, using their expertise and skills to tackle challenges, including those faced by small businesses and young people.

“Lloyds Banking Group is in a powerful position to help local communities across the UK tackle the issues they are facing," Alison Brittain, Group Director Retail, Lloyds Banking Group, said.

"We have shown our commitment to supporting communities across the UK, through the banking services we provide and also through backing a range of programmes and initiatives designed to support education, enterprise, and employability. However, we do not want to stop at that.

"Our employees are a huge untapped resource and their business expertise, deep local knowledge and professional connections can be put to use to improve life in our communities.

“We are backing the Business Connectors scheme by increasing the number of secondees on the ground across the UK and by investing £200,000 in the scheme’s infrastructure and training facilities.

"We hope that, as the scheme rolls out nationally, more businesses will come forward to provide expertise and support through their own employees.”

The Business Connectors scheme was established as a pilot in 2011, following research amongst businesses across the UK, which showed that although most wanted to do more to support local communities, there was a real need for dedicated individuals to act as brokers on the ground in order to achieve this.

Examples of the support provided by secondees during the pilot phase include the launch of an enterprise incubation space for young entrepreneurs in Middlesbrough, which has helped to get 14 new businesses off the ground; the creation of 150 new job opportunities for young people in Lambeth; and the provision of practical advice and support for businesses affected by last year’s riots.

“Business Connectors is based on the proven impact of taking business resource, skills and time into the heart of communities," Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said.

"We’re delighted that Lloyds Banking Group and our other supporting companies are showing leadership and a willingness to take a stand to build prosperous cohesive communities at this critical time.

“The Business Connector model of long term business secondments can help forge new relationships between business and the communities in which they live and operate by building a network of next-generation business leaders with a unique knowledge of the difference that business can make in communities - and the skills to champion change within their organisations. We’re excited that UK businesses, the voluntary sector, HRH the Prince of Wales and The Prime Minister are all backing this movement.”

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