Big Society Capital: Investing for a fairer, more inclusive housing market

I’m Anna Shiel and I’m Head of
Origination at Big Society Capital. At Big Society Capital one of our main
investment themes is housing and together with other investors we’ve now
committed over 600 million pounds to dedicated housing funds. We’d like you to
imagine a world where everyone can afford to buy or to rent a high-quality
home that works for their families, for their jobs and for their lives. Where
homelessness whether invisible or all too visible, could be prevented before it
spirals out of control, and where councils aren’t forced to pay over a
billion pounds of temporary accommodation each year.
That’s what motivates us to invest in housing. But we know that this world can
seem distant, even with the efforts of charities and housing associations,
government and communities. For the outcomes to change, the systems that delivers them
needs to change. One way social impact investors can do this is
partnering with developers who put social purpose to the fore. In Southmead
Bristol, the Housing Association United Communities raised investment from
Cheyne Capital and from Bristol and Bath Regional Capital. This enabled their
scheme to go ahead with more homes on below-market rents and a wider range of
tenure to better meet the needs of the local community. Another way that social ambassadors
promote change is by developing new financial products that allow housing
associations and local authorities to raise capital in different ways. These
include social property funds like CBRE’s affordable housing fund, and charity
bonds like the issue by Hightown Praetorian. Social ambassadors can also
help charities to meet the growing need for homes for the vulnerable people they
support. St Mungo’s and Resonance have built a relationship that now spans
three funds and 200 million pounds of assets under management.This enables Real Lettings, their social lettings agency, to provide move-on homes to over a thousand people at risk of homelessness. Right now we’re seeing an increasing
number of mainstream investors seeking to enter this market including pension
funds and local authorities. This reflects a growing desire for people and
institutions to invest purposefully, to see their money work towards a better
world. Housing combines tangible social impact with financial characteristics
that can be a good match for those of institutional investors. In bringing all of this together there’s an opportunity to create something different. Something
that builds on the lessons of the past and that unites investors, housing
associations and charities to realise a vision of a fairer and more inclusive
housing market At Big Society Capital we are focused on three areas to help bring
this about. Making the private rented sector work better for people on low
incomes, promoting social innovation and standards of impact measurement in
housing, and fighting homelessness and providing homes for the most vulnerable
people. We’ve just given you a flavour here and you can find lots more
information on our website Or you can email us
or follow us on social media.

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