Project snapshot

What

Blended finance funding for social enterprise

Why

To ensure vulnerable people and their carers have access to affordable legal services 

The objectives

•    52% of the UK public know someone who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia.
•    One million people in the UK are currently living with the long-term effects of a brain injury.
•    Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability.


Many vulnerable people may not be able to manage their own affairs or need additional support to safeguard their property or finances.

Established in Cardiff in 2021, Qualia Law CIC is a social enterprise providing safeguarding, financial management support and free legal advice to people who are vulnerable or have lost mental capacity. They help the most vulnerable in society to safeguard their assets and live as independently as possible.

Every Deputyship or Attorneyship is managed by an experienced, specialist solicitor. However, unlike a traditional law firm, Qualia Law’s objective is to act solely in the best interest of their clients, without the need to generate profit.

Qualia Law’s model means its main income comes from Deputyship cases – where a person is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for someone who lacks mental capacity, on financial or welfare matters. As a nonprofit they charge at least 20% less than private law firms, however due to the court system, fees take months to process.

Early-stage social investment would provide funding for initial set-up and administrative costs, until the organisation started to receive regular fee income.

Our support

Introduced to CAF by Cwmpas, Qualia Law’s founder Tom Evans applied to the SE-Assist Fund Wales, a place-based fund from CAF’s social investor Venturesome. The fund offers blended finance to early-stage social enterprises providing support to local community or environmental needs. In 2021, the SE-Assist Fund was able to offer blended finance (part loan/part grant) with thanks to Legal & General, the CAF Resilience Fund and a private philanthropist.

Qualia Law was awarded a blended finance package of £30,000, made up of a £20,000 unsecured interest free loan and a £10,000 grant.

The social investment funded two full-time roles and provided ‘bridging finance’ to help the social enterprise manage the delay in the Court of Protection assessing and paying fees. The loan was fully repaid in September 2023, one year early.

"I see the Venturesome social investment as the core funding at the very beginning. Because of the investment, I was able to be more open about the types of cases we could take on."

Tom Evans
Founder, Qualia Law

The impact

Qualia Law is the UK’s first non-profit organisation to provide Court of Protection services by qualified and regulated solicitors. In June 2023, it was awarded the Social Enterprise Award at the Wales Start Up Awards.

Although initially reluctant to take a loan, Evans was willing to take a hit on salary and grow the business slowly. But his adviser at Cwmpas explained the benefits. “The extra CAF funds allowed me to not have to take a hit at the beginning and growth was a lot quicker because of that. I was able to jump in full-time rather than doing other work alongside” Evans said.

As of September 2023, Qualia Law has provided 130 people with free legal advice and applied to the Court of Protection for Deputyship of 24 individuals, more than quadrupling the number of cases since the beginning of the investment.

Their free webinars have reached hundreds of people so far and many of the upcoming sessions are already at full capacity. These sessions provide important training to professionals in social care and the third sector who work with people who have mental capacity issues, equipping them with crucial knowledge of the workings and processes of the Court of Protection.

Evans says the Venturesome funding also allowed Qualia Law to be open to the types of cases they took on. When Evans read a BBC article about the one million Child Trust Funds sitting unclaimed, including 80,000 belonging to vulnerable children, he saw an opportunity to expand their remit; “There was a mother quoted in the article who I could tell straight away had obviously not had any advice or had received bad advice.” With financial stability provided by the SE-Assist Fund, he was able to secure an additional £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund in August 2023 for a pilot scheme to provide free advice to families applying to the Court of Protection to access child trust funds.

With Deputyship cases now lined up, Qualia Law is planning to have another solicitor on board by the end of year, which will allow the firm to focus on further developing their referral routes with local authorities in Wales. However, after generating contracts with Lambeth Council via their free training service, they are also open to further opportunities in England.

Project takeaways

Blended finance

Blended finance gives social organisations an opportunity to both strengthen their capacity and resilience, while securing the necessary investment to achieve their transformation and/or growth plans. We know that for many social enterprises and charities, funding growth through a loan can be daunting; our investment officers work closely with organisations to carefully plan the level of debt being taken on and support them through the lifetime of the loan.

Unique service

When planning a new social enterprise, identifying what makes the proposition unique can help make your project stand out. Consider whether your organisation will be the first to offer a much-needed service or if it be the only one to focus in a particular sector or region for example.

Test the waters

Having a sense of the level of demand for your service is incredibly valuable when launching a new enterprise. If possible, test the waters by providing a similar service ahead of launch to help with income and demand projections in the early stages.

“The work that Qualia Law is doing for vulnerable people, their families and their communities is life-changing. We’re honoured to have played a part in bringing their vision to life.”

Jack Roper
Group Head of Sustainability, Legal & General plc

“Qualia Law had a strong business plan from the outset with a clear focus on their goals. As the first non-profit organisation to provide Court of Protection services by qualified and regulated solicitors, they’re providing a much-needed service and are a brilliant example of how social investment can be harnessed by impactful businesses to grow.”

Jo Wedderspoon
Senior Manager, Venturesome

Woman on phone

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