Taskforce in urgent call for social investment bank

Funds from dormant bank accounts should be used to set up a sector bank 'as first priority', says Third Sector Taskforce

The Government should make the creation of a social investment bank the first priority for any funds released from dormant accounts, a research programme run jointly by Acevo and the Department for Work and Pensions has concluded.

The Third Sector Taskforce, a partnership between the chief executives body and the DWP that is designed to promote effective third sector involvement in welfare-to-work programmes, has today released a series of conclusions based on its consultation with government departments and third sector organisations.

It says that the Government's stated priorities for any unclaimed assets, which are currently youth work and tackling social exclusion, with the social investment bank in third place, are skewed. The bank, it says, should be top of the list.

The Government should immediately stump up £250m to set up the bank before any unclaimed assets are released, the taskforce also suggests.

The bank would operate as a wholesaler and provide an additional source of finance to the sector, enabling charities to develop additional services, particularly during the recession, the report says.

Tony Hawkhead, chair of the taskforce, said that a social investment bank would be necessary to help charities thrive during the recession.

"It's time to be radical and look at practical solutions to the problems presented to us by the current economic climate," he said.

"Our sector can really help those most in need of support in these challenging times, but many of us are held back by the lack of suitable funding. A social investment bank would enable social enterprises and charities to remain focused on reducing the impact of recession on some of society's most vulnerable people.

"Without it, the third sector will shrink while the problems it exists to solve increase – and many years of good work will wither on the vine."

The taskforce also made a series of other recommendations on developing the role the sector can play in the delivery of welfare-to-work reform, including a "clearing house" for charities to recruit trustees, £5m funding from the DWP for existing capacity-building programmes, incentives from the DWP to share best practice and a neutral service to ease contracting between charities and prime contractors.

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