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Cohen’s Social Investment Task Force bows out

19 April 2010

'I believe the way ahead is now clear to continue the development of a more powerful, sustainable and effective social sector in the UK'

 

Sir Ronald Cohen

The Social Investment Task Force is calling for the government to match fund more social investment initiatives in its final ever report, published today.

The task force, which was set up by the Treasury in 2000 and chaired by venture capital guru Sir Ronald Cohen, makes the recommendation in Social Investment Ten Years On – arguing that despite ‘exciting developments’ social investment is still a ‘nascent market’ that faces several challenges and needs support.

In his foreword Cohen argues that a new, dedicated organisation, called the Social Investment Initiative, needs to be created to drive forward the work of social investment.

Cohen said: ‘I believe the way ahead is now clear to continue the development of a more powerful, sustainable and effective social sector in the UK.’

Speaking on behalf of the task force secretariat, Alastair Ballantyne said: ‘There needs to be an initiative of some sort to promote social investment because we are at such a vital cusp of its development.’

Referring to the recommendation that government should provide match-funding to encourage private investors to consider social investments, Ballantyne pointed to the success of the Bridges Ventures Community Development Funds (CDV) I and II.

CDVI raised £40m from investors; half of this was from the Treasury. CDVII raised £75m; all of this came from private investors.

‘You can see that match funding was successful in the case of Bridges Ventures because the second fund raised £75m and didn’t need any match funding,’ said Ballantyne.

However, the Social Investment Ten Years On recommendation points to the fact government should support a ‘wide range’ of investment initiatives, not just venture capital.

Other recommendations include:

  • introducing a UK version of the US Community Reinvestment Act: legislation that would force banks to disclose who they lend to, and thus reveal if they are serving underprivileged communities.
  • establishing a definition of social enterprise.
  • introducing a tax incentive to ‘encourage trusts and foundations to use some of their considerable assets of more than £60bn to engage in social investment’
  • supporting the development of the social impact bond which could become part of the remit of the social investment wholesale bank.

See www.socialinvestmenttaskforce.org for more

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