Social investment wholesale bank 'should be independent of government'

Office of Third Sector publishes summary of responses to consultation on the issue

The proposed social investment wholesale bank should be independent from both government and retailers, according to most of the 80 respondents to an Office of the Third Sector consultation.

The OTS has published a summary of the responses, which also shows that two-thirds of the respondents said the SIWB should raise capital and invest in retail lenders.

However, many respondents said that problems with potential borrowers needed to be addressed – these included risk aversion and a lack of financial skills in the third sector. Some respondents said this was a more pressing need than increased investment.

"These respondents felt that the real demand was for sub-commercial investments in third sector organisations that are not investment-ready, do not have a track record of generating revenues or are early-stage," the report says.

About three in five respondents backed a role for the SIWB in making a market for trading social investment, but said this needed to be handled with caution because of potential conflicts of interest with its role as a wholesaler.

The bank should be governed by an independent board made up of representatives from the third sector, financial intermediaries and beneficiaries, according to most respondents.

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