Wednesday 4 April 2012

Loans r us!

Off to the Stock Exchange; now its not often a third sector leader can blog that- for the launch of Big Society Capital. I'm a board member of the Trust that oversees it.

I'm a fan. And I think this is a landmark day for the third sector. And indeed a UK first which other countries are looking to copy.

Big Society Capital is a groundbreaking £600 million institution. And it was important that it was launched by the Prime Minister today. Its mission is to grow a new market and so make it easier for charities and social enterprises to access affordable finance. In turn, this will help us innovate, expand services and develop better solutions to social problems.

Big Society Capital will be capitalised with a total of £600 million. An estimated £400 million of this will come from unclaimed cash left dormant in bank accounts for over 15 years and £200 million will come from the UK's four largest high street banks .

Big Society Capital will grow the social investment market which blends financial return with positive social impact. It will do this through the development of socially orientated investment organisations that support charities and social enterprises that have the ability to repay an investment through the income they generate. I know from the work of SIB that we can make loans , help expand the sector and get the money back to reinvest.

For years, the City has been associated with providing capital to help businesses to expand. This is about supplying capital to help civil society expand. Finance from the City has been essential to help businesses grow, so finance from banks could be essential to helping tackle deep social problems that we exist to tackle.

Big Society Capital , the Social Investment Business and others will encourage charities and social enterprises to prove their business models and help replicate them.

It was great to hear from Sir Ronald Cohen Chair of Big Society Capital who said  "What we've done for business entrepreneurs we must now do for social entrepreneurs. We must give them the resources to innovate in the way we resolve social issues. ". Exactly!

And I do have to admit to asking the first question- which was not a question- but me giving credit where credit is due to both Cameron and the government and to Ronnie.

Then it was off to do interviews with Sky and then BBC World at One. The later also enabled me to give both credit but to remind people that our sector is losing money through cuts and to talk about the budget cap on tax relief and the need for that to be lifted.

A good day, but we cannot underestimate the problems and challenges we still face in terms of cuts and the increasing problems faced by communities and citizens.

Sir Stephen Bubb


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