Social investment will feature in Tory manifesto, says minister Rob Wilson

The Minister for Civil Society says the party is coming up with 'some really good ideas' about how people can make social investments

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

Plans to encourage people to make social investments will be included in the Conservative Party manifesto for the general election, according to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society.

Wilson was speaking to Third Sector in Streatham, south London, yesterday at the official announcement of a grant of a further £1.45m of Libor-rigging fines money for five uniformed youth groups.

Earlier that day, the minister had attended an event in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to launch the first social impact bonds for which those investing in the scheme benefited from the new social investment tax relief.

Asked whether he had personally committed any of his money to any social investment schemes, Wilson said: "I've certainly supported charities, if that's a social investment, but I haven't taken five grand and put it in a social investment tax-relief scheme or anything like that. We are going to be, without speaking too much about what's going in the manifestos, coming up with some really good new ideas about how individuals can invest in these sorts of things."

Encouraging people – also referred to as "retail investors" – to become involved in social investment was the major recommendation of a report by Triodos Bank presented to the G8’s Social Impact Investment Taskforce in November.

Wilson said he hoped that the work of the groups that are benefiting from the Libor-related grant – which include the Volunteer Police Cadets, the Scout Association and the Woodcraft Folk – would ensure that social action in the UK became "part of the way of life that lasts from youth right through to old age".

He said: "It's an integrated effort to make sure that volunteering becomes very much part of what a young person starts off doing from the age of 10 and continues right through to older age. It's part of what I’d call a bigger, stronger society."

Wilson was coy on whether he or the Office for Civil Society would seek a share of future Libor fines money. To date, good causes have benefited from more than £200m of this money.

"There's a Budget coming up, so I’m not going to say what I’m pushing for now or not pushing for because I don't want to give any indications of where I might be having discussions with the Treasury," he said.

Third Sector asked Wilson why the Cabinet Office had not been clearer in its response to concerns raised about the reappointment of William Shawcross as chair of the Charity Commission.

Last week Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, asked whether correct procedure had been followed in the reappointment, but earlier this week the Cabinet Office did not directly respond to Third Sector's question about the matter. Wilson said yesterday: "I'm sure the Cabinet Secretary will answer that in his letter, but as far as I’m concerned everything was done as it should have been."

Wilson, who inspected a Volunteer Police Cadets parade at a south London school at the event marking the £1.45m grant, said he had never been part of a cadet, scout or similar group because he was too busy playing various sports as a child.

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