Mencap housing arm to issue first tranche of £30m bond next year

Alastair Graham, chief executive of Golden Lane Housing, says bond funding is more appropriate for the charity than a bank loan

Alastair Graham
Alastair Graham

Golden Lane Housing, the housing arm of the disability charity Mencap, has said it will issue the first tranche of a £30m bond early next year.

The bond, which Golden Lane said was the largest issued by an operational charity, will be used to provide specialist housing for people with learning disabilities. Interest on the bond will be funded through rent payments from the properties.

Alastair Graham, chief executive of Golden Lane Housing, said the first tranche of the bond is likely to be worth £10m.

"We’re going to do market testing on a number of aspects this year," he said. "We’ve been assured by our financial advisers that they can raise £10m.

"The initial investors are likely to be charitable investors: however, we expect them to invest only for as long as we need to get proof of concept. Then we will pursue commercial investors and will pay a commercial rate of return."

Market testing will be paid for by a grant of £349,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, which was announced yesterday.

Graham said that several aspects of the bond had still to be developed, such as the length of time before it matured, the interest that would be paid and whether the bond would be listed on an exchange, which would make it easy for investors to buy and sell.

Graham said that bond funding was "an exciting way to raise a substantial amount of capital quickly" and was much better suited to his charity’s needs than the alternatives.

"We could go to the bank and get a loan," he said. "But we would have to secure it against the value of the property we buy, and we wouldn’t be able to raise 100 per cent of the property value.

"We could attempt to raise money through grants and donations, but we wouldn’t be able to reach anything like the same scale."

Other charities have issued bonds before now, including the disability charity Scope, which recently raised £2m through its first bond issue.

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