Headlines: February 5th, 2009

The Third Sector Task Force has called for the establishment of a 250 million pound social investment bank to transform the role charities and social enterprises can play in the delivery of public services. The Taskforce wants the Government to make the bank its priority for any funding released from the Unclaimed Assets Register with immediate direct funding going to an interim bank to be created as soon as possible.

The Taskforce, which was set up by the Association of Chief Executives in Voluntary Organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions, believes the creation of a Social Investment Bank would have the greatest impact on the sector’s ability to deliver services. Tony Hawkhead, the chair of the Taskforce,said, β€œIt’s time to be radical and look at practical solutions to the problems presented to us by the current economic climate.”

Mr. Hawkhead said the third sector had the talent, knowledge and ability to build trust and offer genuine and lasting help, particularly to people who were hardest to reach. The organisations also had the right experience, he said, with many of them delivering the Government’s Welfare to Work programmes and other public services for years. “Our sector can really help those most in need of support in these challenging times, but many of us are held back by the lack of suitable funding,” Mr. Hawkhead added.

Currently, the idea of a Social Investment Bank is third on the list of Government priorities for applying unclaimed assets, behind the funding of youth centres and the prevention of financial exclusion. The Taskforce report argues, however, that all three objectives would be more likely to be met if the bank was funded first, with youth centres and financial exclusion objectives being paid for from returns on its investments.