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Brexit and social investment - what does this mean for charities and social enterprises?
Is there anything left to say about Brexit? Rightly, the rational view across the social sector is that their role is not to judge the result but to work out how best to respond.
So what is the relevance of social investment now, especially when some of the Brexit reflections around disillusionment with a London-centric elite has echoes of criticisms of the social investment world?
1) Social investors can decide where they choose to allocate funds
This may become more relevant as poorer areas of the country engage government to ensure levels of EU funding are maintained (cue disclaimer: social investment is not a replacement for grants). For example our partner the Access Foundation’s aim is to increase supply of investment for smaller organisations and in places where this is not easily available. It’s been encouraging to see proposals being developed to support the sector in the South West and other specific regions in particular.
2) Increasing investment for solutions generated within communities
Impact data recently released by the School for Social Entrepreneurs on their Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland social entrepreneur's programme demonstrates how building bottom up change through the social economy could be done – 50% of the Fellows are working in the most deprived communities and 25% have direct experience of the social issue they are trying to address such as tackling the education and employment gap, health inequality and affordable housing for vulnerable people.
3) Tackling inequality
Charities and social enterprises have the fight against “burning injustice” at their core, and will have plenty to contribute to the agenda Theresa May has outlined. Social investment could be relevant in enabling much of this work to grow, whether it’s supporting high quality nurseries in deprived areas or investment into social enterprises that help address the cost of living for poorer families.
4) Listening and responding during uncertainty
The referendum result and economic uncertainty clearly poses significant financial and operating challenges for the social sector and there is an increased need to support the sector during this time. Several social lenders have been quick to reiterate their support for borrowers – charities should discuss with their investors the challenges they may be facing and what flexibility may be required.
I saw that an Ipsos/MORI poll this week indicated that most people think that the economy will do better outside the EU in 10 or 20 years’ time. In the meantime, whatever comes next, the amazing yet relentless work of charities and social enterprises is surely needed now more than ever. I know the commitment of social investors to work in partnership with the sector to meet the challenge remains.
A longer version of this piece can be found on Pioneers Post.