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Government amendments to Financial Services Bill back social investment

6 November 2012

Some very important points of principle have been recognised. The amendments are clearly in response to social investment concerns previously raised by peers

Luke Fletcher, Bates Wells & Braithwaite

The latest government amendments to the Financial Services Bill signal the potential for a more favourable environment for social investment, following concerns raised by peers in previous debates.

The bill, which outlines the government’s plans to revamp UK financial regulation, today began its report stage in the House of Lords.

Luke Fletcher, a senior associate at  law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, told SocialEnterpriseLive.com that he believed the government amendments were ‘meaningful and substantive’.

He said: ‘Some very important points of principle have been recognised. The amendments are clearly in response to social investment concerns previously raised by Lord Phillips, Baroness Kramer and Lord Hodgson.’

He added: ‘In effect, the amendments recognise that social investors may have different expectations to other investors, it is important that the financially excluded can access community finance provision, and social investment businesses may have different natures and different objectives to ordinary investment businesses.’

Conservative peer Lord Hodgson has also put down an amendment which would require the new regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority, to consult on the regulation of common investment funds and common deposit funds, both of which are special forms of charitable investment funds.

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Kramer has backed an amendment to require the FCA to require holders of banking licences to publish quarterly data on lending by postcode and to small and medium-sized enterprises. This aims to strengthen community finance provision.

These amendments are planned to be debated on 12 November. The government amendments are very likely to be accepted.

The marshalled list of amendments (which shows the amendments made during the committee stage in the House of Lords) can be viewed at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2012-2013/0048/amend/ml048-ir.htm

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