As Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) launch their new Social and Sustainable Housing fund (SASH) – a housing fund investing in safe homes for vulnerable people in the UK - Nick Temple reflects on SASC’s journey as social investors so far, and explains why more exciting impact is to yet come.
Given the speed at which our world seems to move in these social media-powered times, looking back five or six years can feel like a lifetime ago. Yet it was only in 2013 that Social Investment Business (SIB) became a partner in SASC, investing not only in the company itself but also in SASC’s initial two funds: the Community Investment Fund and the Third Sector Investment Fund. Our investment of £12m helped leverage in additional investment from both Big Society Capital and Santander, resulting in £50m of funds dedicated to supporting charities and social enterprises supporting the people and communities most in need. As those funds have been invested in the years since in organisations as diverse as Family Action, Hull Women’s Network, and Bristol Energy Cooperative, we have been proud of the positive impact being created.
It is an even greater potential for impact that is exciting us about the next phase of SASC’s journey as a social investor, with its new Social and Sustainable Housing fund (SASH). This new fund is based on SASC’s experience in the field, and has been co-designed with charities to ensure it works for all parties. In a nutshell, it enables charities and social enterprises to provide housing for the most vulnerable, helps absorb the risks of buying or renting properties, gives those same organisations the benefit of long-term asset ownership, and also satisfies investors looking for a risk-adjusted return. On top of that, because of the people being provided with safe and stable homes - such as women and children fleeing violence and abuse - the positive impact could well be significant.
The other thing that is different about the way this fund is structured is the balance of risk carried by the investor and investee; in some social investment funds, including other property funds, that balance can feel weighted too much in favour of the investor - the SASC fund avoids that through a range of features that re-balance the performance risk and the effect of property price fluctuations more equitably. At SIB, we are working hard to ensure that charities and social enterprises, and the people they support, are involved in the design, delivery, decision-making and direction of our work, so we welcome this aspect to SASC’s fund.
Finally, we are delighted to be joined as an investor in the new fund not only by Big Society Capital alongside us again, but also by a much greater number of partners. The fund has attracted £26m investment from 19 investors, including Garfield Weston Foundation, CCLA Investment Management, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the University of Edinburgh, Tudor Trust, City Bridge Trust, Power to Change, Trust for London, Adlib Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust. It is a powerful partnership that we are proud to be working with to maximise the impact of this fund. It is also a demonstration of how that initial investment in 2013 provided a foundation for SASC to become one of the premier social investors in the UK, for which great credit goes to their team, board and everyone who has been involved. I look forward with anticipation to the next five years of them investing for impact.
About Social and Sustainable Capital
SASC provides simple finance for extraordinary charities and social enterprises. They believe greater access to the right kind of investment makes charities and social enterprises better able to tackle society's most pressing challenges. Their funds provide flexible capital to enable social sector organisations to grow their social impact, improving the lives of disadvantaged people across the UK. SASC is a social enterprise.