Today we launch our policy priorities for social investment for the next Parliament.
Of course, successive governments have already done a huge amount in policy terms to support UK social investment, whether it was the last Labour administration’s Dormant Accounts Act of 2008, or the current Coalition government’s investment and contract readiness programme, or the creation of the world’s first social investment tax relief. It is with some justification that the Britain is GREAT campaign is now trumpeting the UK social investment policy environment as No 1 in the world.
But with progress comes more opportunity – and there still a few things that just need plain fixing. So in our Better Finance, Better Society publication, we set out four opportunities that would benefit from policy change:
- Empower individuals to invest in their communities – we argue for a Social Pension option to be part of every defined contribution pensions platform, for a more proportionate regime around Financial Promotion for charities and social enterprises making small offers, and for extended support to community asset purchases.
- Invest in prevention and better public services – we argue for greater transparency around public sector contracting particularly in the volume and value of work charities and social enterprises secure as sub-contractors, and for part of the next Spending Review to include settlements around social issues such as young people who are not in education,training or employment, homelessness or mental health.
- Connect the financial system to social challenges – we argue for a Community Banking Act to require more detailed disclosure of lending and deposit-taking from financial institutions, and for future financial fines and penalties to be directed towards social investment.
- Support charities and social enterprises to become more sustainable – we argue for completing the design and roll-out of the social investment tax relief, extending investment readiness support and streamlining the regulation of community interest companies and registered societies into a unified social economy commission.
To a large extent the future of social investment is now in the hands of the users and providers of capital, and in the arrangers, managers and advisers that bring them together. But government has played a critical role in getting to this stage, and still has much it can do through a supportive policy environment. Big Society Capital will be working with whoever forms the next government to press this point home, and offer support and advice around good policy for social investment.