A REPORT reveals that Cambridge could benefit from millions of pounds of ‘place-based social impact investment’ - funding provided by investors dedicated to resolving social issues such as homelessness and creating a positive impact through projects including affordable homes or supporting people into work.
Cambridge City Council, AchieveGood and It Takes A City CLT have been working in partnership to explore how finance can be secured to improve the lives of local people and build a better and more sustainable city for the future, as part of the city council’s Our Cambridge programme.
The report, Coming Together: The role that social impact investing can play in Cambridge, outlines opportunities to raise millions of pounds which can be invested to address some of Greater Cambridge’s most significant social and environmental challenges.
These opportunities have been identified by partners and organisations who contributed local insights through a call for evidence consultation which ran during summer 2022.
The partnership will now move forward to a second phase of the project which includes developing a funding model and securing investment. This second phase will finish in spring/summer 2023.
Funding could come from a mixture of philanthropic individuals or organisations, the public and low-cost patient capital from investors – which has been an approach used in Bristol and Camden.
More information about registering interest as an investor is available on the council’s website at www.cambridge.gov.uk/our-cambridge.
The report says that social investment could be used for projects such as supporting charities and social enterprises to build and purchase housing, reduce homelessness, promote skills, and help people prepare for employment, as well as promoting community resilience, biodiversity and combatting environmental harm.
The council, It Takes A City and AchieveGood are now engaging with local charities and social enterprises, as well as potential investors, who can make a significant positive impact.
The report describes how Greater Cambridge has a growing economy, with strong levels of employment benefitting from globally prestigious universities, flourishing industries in key sectors such as deep tech, life science, research and finance, as well as a vibrant social and voluntary sector.
The impacts of Covid-19 and the nature of the local economy mean Greater Cambridge faces a complex set of pressures, with stark inequality between the most affluent and deprived communities. There are inequalities of outcomes, especially around education, social mobility and life expectancy.
Robert Pollock, Chief Executive of Cambridge City Council, said: “The initial research suggests we have the right conditions to bring together finance from the private and public sectors to have a positive long-term impact.
“Greater Cambridge has a brilliant track record of backing innovation and growing start-ups. If we can apply that rich experience to social and environmental enterprises and charities, everyone can benefit.”
Dominic Llewellyn, the Founder and CEO of AchieveGood, said: “There are some brilliant examples of place-based social impact investment around the UK and globally, including notably in Bristol with their £10m City Fund.
“It’s exciting to see an appetite for Cambridge to come together as a city and leverage its fantastic assets to tackle some of its greatest challenges around homelessness and housing, inequality, skills, education and employment, community resilience and environmental transformation.”
Martin Clark, Board Member at It Takes A City CLT, said: “Social investment is a powerful tool if used well, but also one that hasn’t yet fulfilled its full potential to help achieve social and environmental impact, so this initiative is really welcome and should work well in a place like Cambridge where there is a combination of great need as well as great resource.
“I really hope this project will help get the resource to where it’s needed most, in the form that makes the greatest difference."