Chancellor Gordon Brown set up the The Social Investment Task Force to look at ways to create wealth and promote enterprise to support economic regeneration and community cohesion. The first report highlighted the need for a 'specialist wholesale intermediary' to provide new sources of capital to help the social sector grow.
The Independent Commission on Unclaimed Assets was established, with Sir Ronald Cohen as chair. It was set up to consider how unclaimed assets (money sitting untouched for 15 years in dormant bank and building society accounts) could be best used to benefit society.
The Commission’s report says the social sector is in urgent need of greater investment and professional support. It recommends the creation of an independent ‘Social Investment Bank’, using the capital from dormant bank and building society accounts. The ‘Bank’ would invest in social investment finance intermediaries.
The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act is passed, under which money in these accounts can be distributed for the benefit of the community. The Act says that money from dormant accounts available for spending in England must be used for one or more of: provision of services for young people; financial inclusion; or a ‘social investment wholesaler’.
The UK Government commits to using all dormant accounts money available for spending in England to establish a social investment wholesale institution. This ‘Big Society Bank’ will develop and grow a sustainable market for social investment in the UK.
Sir Ronald Cohen offers to advise government and develop a proposal for a ‘Big Society Bank' with Nick O’Donohoe. After consultation with key social sector organisations, they submit an outline proposal for a ‘Big Society Bank’ which is endorsed by Ministers subject to conditions. There is a strong imperative to use dormant accounts money as soon as it becomes available (summer 2011). The Big Lottery Fund establishes an interim Investment Committee which makes seven investment commitments. State aid approval for Big Society Capital is secured from the European Commission.
The Financial Services Authority authorises Big Society Capital.The Investment Committee is wound up and its investment portfolio transferred to Big Society Capital.
Big Society Capital is launched by the Prime Minister on April 4.