When did tax get to be so interesting? I guess that’s an easy answer for us at Big Society Capital and our friends at Social Investment Scotland who this week announced seven new investments totalling £389k from their dedicated Social Investment Tax Relief Fund, Community Capital.
Last week, it was great to be able to participate in a discussion on social investment with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Charities and Volunteering – the first time this topic had been discussed at length with parliamentarians interested in the voluntary sector.
In the wake of so much negative press around tax dodges, how delightful to see this week’s announcement from South Bristol Sports Centre on the launch of their £1million sports scheme, £250k of which was raised using Social Investment Tax Relief.
For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, a good education can be the key to opening up new opportunities. Higher education, in particular, has been shown to have a significant effect on a young person's career prospects and lifetime earnings, and as a result, their social mobility. Yet it’s also widely true that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to underperform academically versus their more affluent peers.
We know that all too often there is a mismatch between the hype of social investment and the gritty reality. Part of this is a mismatch of expectations – between the social investor with the money, and the social enterprise looking to raise finance. And in my experience, this mismatch is particularly striking around the issue of governance.
Who should be a social investor? Should social investment be the preserve of big financial institutions, charitable foundations, large companies and high-net-worth individuals? Or should this be accessible to regular people who identify with a social issue or a community and want to do everything they can to help?
Last week the Big Lottery Fund announced that up to £293,250 in grant funding has been offered in-principle to North Somerset Council for a four-year social impact bond (SIB) to support 240 local young people aged 10 to 17 who are at risk of going into care.
At Big Society Capital, we are seeing increasing interest in the use of social investment to pump prime public service reform. There are wide areas of government services which could benefit from being commissioned partially or fully on the basis of outcomes.
A core part of Big Society Capital’s role as an investor is to source and develop new investment proposals, as well as assessing applications we receive. We actively seek partners to co-design solutions which address specific social issues and fill gaps where social investment could have a role to play.
Many charities with a large national presence such as Age UK and YMCA operate in a “federated” structure (with an umbrella or national charity and a number of local independent charities run with a common identity).