Big Society Capital invests £5m in Public Service Lab partnership involving Catch22

The partnership between the crime reduction charity and two private sector firms is the first winner of the BSC's Business Impact Challenge

Partnership is first winner
Partnership is first winner

Big Society Capital will invest £5m of match funding in a new initiative to help voluntary sector organisations deliver large public sector contracts.

The social investment wholesaler announced today that the Public Service Lab, a partnership between the construction company Interserve, the crime reduction charity Catch22 and the financial services company Clubfinance, had secured the investment by becoming the first winner of BSC’s Business Impact Challenge.

The challenge was launched in December 2014 to use social investment ideas from the private sector that will generate strong business and social value in the UK.

The Public Services Lab is a social business that will help charities, community organisations and social enterprises deliver large public sector contracts by offering advice and support to help them compete with private sector bidders.

The scheme will now progress through Big Society Capital’s investment process, BSC said. The £5m will be given in the form of a loan.

Chris Wright, chief executive of Catch22, said: "In the current financial climate, it is more important than ever for the voluntary, community, public and private sectors to come together to develop creative solutions to the challenges facing public services. We’re delighted to have found forward-thinking partners to make this happen."

Tim Haywood, group finance director and head of sustainability at Interserve, said many voluntary, community and social enterprises found it difficult to get the skills and funding to bid for large public sector contracts, something the partnership hoped to address.

Five bids were shortlisted for the Business Impact Challenge, two of which were awarded high commendations: Wates and Social & Sustainable Capital, for developing the supply chain and a social investment fund in the housing and built environment sector; and Asda and Social Investment Scotland, to support local social enterprises and bring products and services to market.

These two schemes will continue to work with Big Society Capital to explore the possibility of future matched investment.

The winner was chosen by an expert panel chaired by Lord Davies of Abersoch, the former chairman of the Standard Chartered bank and a former trade and investment minister.

He said: "We wanted to see ideas that would generate strong business and social value. The panel was very impressed by the innovative vision of the Interserve and Catch22 proposal. The amount of work and resources that have already been committed give us confidence that this proposal can be significantly transformative when launched."

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