David Ruffley states 'Big Society Bank' can help Suffolk voluntary organisations

Tuesday, 23 August, 2011

The Government this month has given us some new information about the 'Big Society Bank' which could help support the growth of voluntary and charity organisations in Suffolk.

Earlier this summer the 'Big Society Minister', Nick Hurd MP came to the Apex in Bury St Edmunds to talk about what Suffolk's voluntary sector could do in the next year to navigate through the dire economic climate. As a result of the summit meeting that David Ruffley chaired at the Apex, which was attended by many top representatives of Suffolk voluntary organisations, David will be putting together a Commission on the Suffolk Social Sector. Its aim is to ensure that Suffolk Councils- especially the County Council- provide the support and information the Suffolk Social sector currently lacks.

David Ruffley says:

The ' Big Society Capital group (BSC)' and will play a critical role in speeding up the growth of the social investment market, and so boost the ability of social enterprises, charities, voluntary and community organisations (collectively 'the social sector') to deal with social issues.

It will help voluntary organisations and charities access loans at a much cheaper rate than commercial banks, and will be designed to help them access these loans that other banks might typically reject them for.'

The Bank has attracted much praise from sector representatives. Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of Acevo and chair of the Adventure Capital Fund, which is run by Social Investment Business, said the bank could be "revolutionary" for the sector.

Jonathan Lewis, the Chief Executive of Social Investment Business, said

'It's fantastic to see this government's commitment to growing the UK's social investment market. Loans are a new concept for some people in our sector but many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups have shown they are perfectly capable of using loans to finance their growth, paying them back with interest. What they need is greater access to capital and support to help them become investment ready."

David Ruffley commented: 'How you decide a 'return' on a social venture is going to be tricky. If you put the interest rates on the loans too low the Bank will need taxpayers' money to keep it afloat or its services part-subsidised. Put them too high and voluntary organisations and their social investors will see the loans as too dear and will not want to take them up.

The Big Society Bank can't become more unpopular thank the banks who helped cause the economic crash, can it?'