Today is an important day in the development of the social investment market. The announcement by the Chancellor in his Budget today that he will introduce tax incentives for social investment will be pivotal in encouraging greater numbers of individuals to provide funding to social sector organisations. This investment can help social sector organisations to grow and make a big difference to a large number of society’s most vulnerable. Until now, the lack of appropriate tax incentive has been a barrier to unlocking the potential of these individuals to support social investment.
Should social sector organisations be treated differently to small businesses when it comes to raising much needed investment? Well, that’s how they are currently treated by the tax system. Existing tax incentive schemes, such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trust scheme, have a good track record of encouraging investment in small growing businesses. But these remain by and large unavailable to investments in social sector organisations. Without resorting to the detail, this is because existing reliefs require investments in equity that large numbers of social sector organisations simply do not have. Even more confusing is that tax relief exists for donations to these organisations – but investments are left out. Given the increasing role that social sector organisations are playing in public services, the lack of tax incentive does not make sense.
Since it opened in April, Big Society Capital (BSC) has committed £56 million to 20 separate organisations. We have made cornerstone investments in a series of Social Enterprise funds managed by new and existing intermediaries. We have committed to six newly created Social Impact Bonds to fund charities to provide innovative interventions across a range of social issues in a diverse set of locations around the UK.
Evidencing social value has become a pressing issue for social sector organisations to enable them to showcase and demonstrate the value they are delivering. This is particularly relevant in the context of increasing payment by results commissioning by government and the Social Value Act 2012 that means public bodies need to consider social value in procurement processes. More broadly it is a way of targeting increasingly scarce resources, including funding and investment, to their most effective use – with a focus on the difference that is being made to the lives of the ultimate beneficiaries. It is also a way in which to be accountable to stakeholders.
Today Big Society Capital (“BSC”) has published a ‘market update’ that sets out our view of how the social investment market might evolve. It also calls for specific investment ideas focused on health, social care and ageing; on community enterprises and assets; and on affordable housing. You can read the detailed document here.
Big Society Capital was established to grow the social investment market in the UK. To do this we are investing to build the market infrastructure and support development of the financial intermediaries that are required to connect investors looking for both a social and financial return with the enterprises they can invest in to achieve this goal.