Social enterprise and investment need their own regulator, says Big Society Capital

Social enterprise and investment need their own regulator, says Big Society Capital
Civil Society Finance, By David Ainsworth


The government should create a new regulator for social enterprise and social investment, to work in parallel with the Charity Commission, Big Society Capital has said in a manifesto document published today.


In a document called Better Finance, Better Society: Policy Priorities for Social Investment for the 2015 General Election and Beyond, BSC calls for the creation of a Social Economy Commission to work alongside the Charity Commission.


It says the government should consolidate in one body “the existing fragmented regulation” of organisations such as cooperatives, community benefit societies, Community Interest Companies and social impact bonds.


“The simplified regulation should also focus on improving the transparency of social impact achieved more broadly across businesses with social missions and the public sector,” the document says.


The document also calls on government to:
Compel corporate employers to offer a “social pension” option to employees
Exempt social investment from financial promotions rules which prevent investments being marketed to ordinary people
Introduce a range of measures to strengthen communities’ abilities to buy local assets such as shops and pubs
Provide more data on social providers and social outcomes in government contracts
Provide more grant funding to help charities become investment ready


“A strong social economy is emerging,” the document says. “Many pioneering charities and social enterprises are adopting more sustainable business models. Individuals are finding new ways to work within their communities to address social issues that matter to them.
“Innovations in the delivery of public services are showing how new partnerships can address long-term social problems.


“Social investment can help by supporting trusted and experienced partners in charities, social enterprises and communities to deliver change. It can help to shift focus from inputs and process to ensuring that social outcomes are achieved. Importantly, it can provide access to deep pools of capital – from corporates to foundations, or individuals.


“It also aims to be sustainable – the recycling of investment can see multiple rounds of impact created, and generate long-lasting benefits for investors and society.


“Successive governments have done much to promote social investment in the UK. However, further policy change would help social investment do more.”