New firm to prepare ground for Social Investment Bank

The pioneers of a Social Investment Bank to improve access to finance in the third sector have set up a company to research the market and identify new financial products for charities and social enterprises.

Social Finance, a limited company, will prepare the ground for the bank in anticipation of the Government deciding to go ahead with the scheme.

A bank for the third sector funded by money in dormant accounts was first proposed by the Commission on Unclaimed Assets. Several members of the commission, including the chair, Sir Ronald Cohen, and Geraldine Peacock, Matthew Pike and Bernard Horn, are now non-executive directors of Social Finance.

Other directors include David Blood, co-founder of US sustainable investment firm Generation, Stephen Lloyd, charity law expert at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, and Penny Newman, chief executive of social enterprise Café Direct.

“Our role is to improve the link between the sector and the investor community, from high-net-worth individuals to banks and foundations,” said Toby Eccles, development director at Social Finance and also secretary to the Commission on Unclaimed Assets. “We will look at ways to blend capital form these sources so they fit the needs of the sector better.”

The Government’s Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill includes provision for money in dormant accounts to be distributed to a “social investment wholesaler”. The wholesaler (or bank) is currently listed as the third priority for unclaimed assets spending after youth services and financial inclusion.

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