Big Society Capital gets mixed reviews in stakeholder survey
Civil Society, by David Ainsworth
Only 26 per cent of charities and social enterprises are positive about Big Society Capital’s ability to bring them more capital, according to a report published yesterday.
The report, published by BSC as part of a stakeholder survey, found that 69.8 per cent of respondents said the organisation’s impact had been positive or very positive, but that charities and social enterprises were the least happy.
The report was based on an online survey and in-depth stakeholder interviews conducted by Matter & Co, a specialist sector communications firm.
Cliff Prior, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said: "Charities and social enterprises were least positive about BSC’s success in bringing them more capital, with only 26 per cent rating their performance at 6 or more out of 10.”
“Opinion is split on our progress and pace. We are too often seen as institutional, risk averse, too expensive, and too influenced by commercial investment backgrounds.
“Most worrying, it is the charities and social enterprises which are least positive. In particular, they are dissatisfied with our progress in bringing more capital investment to them – at the core of our mission.”
“Around 70 per cent say our impact has been positive or very positive. Respondents praised the achievements, both investment and market development. This is significantly more positive than we expected, given the early stage of our development, the challenges of the wholesale role, and the difficult balance between drawing in co-investment to build the market and deploying funds on terms acceptable to cash-strapped charities and social enterprises.”
“In general, BSC’s relationships with stakeholders were rated as good. Intermediaries were judged by all respondents to have the most positive relationships with BSC – and 67 per cent of intermediaries themselves thought their own relationships with BSC were good or excellent."
"Respondents’ opinions about relationships with charities and social enterprises were split – 51 per cent thought the relationship with this sector was good or excellent but 47 per cent thought it was poor or very bad. Charities and social enterprises themselves were also split, with 55 per cent saying that relationships were good but 42 per cent saying they were poor or very bad.”
“Price of capital was a particular issue, with most respondents commenting on a lack of affordable finance. Respondents remarked that BSC insisted on market terms and pricing in a market that cannot afford such terms, which had a detrimental effect on the sustainability of the intermediary market.”
“Of those people interviewed whose organisations had received funding from BSC, almost two-thirds scored the process at 5 or lower out of 10, indicating they had experienced some difficulties. Most respondents (87.5 per cent) felt the social investment they received met their needs and delivered against their expectations.”
“Issues highlighted as less helpful included the expense of finance, being “hamstrung by government”, confusion about the BSC board and governance structure, and the need to get buy-in from different government departments as well as from local government.”