Appetite for Investment?

An Engage London report on the attitudes and experiences of social investment for the VCS in London working with children, young people and families.

This research report has been produced through Engage London (a partnership between Children England, Partnership for Young London and the Race Equality Foundation) and funded by the London Councils Grant Programme.
In the context of huge budgets cuts to London’s councils, increased applications to independent funders and rising demand for children, young people and families’ services, social investment is increasingly being promoted to the voluntary and community sector (VCS) as the solution to finding innovative ways to tackle social problems whilst enabling the sector to sustainably finance itself.

Despite much talk of social investment’s promise, its uptake by London’s VCS has been limited. This may be due to many reasons, including the lack of a clear and consistent definition of social investment and its aims, 1 reluctant attitudes towards debt-financing from the sector, 2 and difficulties in accessing capital such as the lack of knowledge or high transaction costs.

With social investment high on the political agenda yet seemingly low on the voluntary sector’s, this research was undertaken to assess the attitudes and experiences of London’s VCS working with children, young people and families. The findings aim to inform policy-makers and funders seeking to expand the social investment market in London.

The research presents a mixed picture with regards to London's voluntary sector's attitudes and experiences of social investment and suggest a number of obstacle. The research notes that although social investment is not a fix-all solution to the funding crisis, a diverse funding mix is needed and social investment is one part of this picture.