Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) is currently in the process of consulting with the European Union in an effort to convince them to lift the ‘State Aid de Minimis’ from the individual investment cap that can be raised by any organisation. This is part of a wider effort to grow the social investment market in the United Kingdom, which currently provides over £200m of investment each year to third sector organisations.
HMT was seeking evidence relating to the demand for social investment amongst third sector organisations, in order to strengthen their case to the European Union. As part of this, HMT contacted the University’s Institute for Social Innovation and Impact (ISII) to ask for assistance in providing research evidence. The ISII team is currently evaluating the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘BIG Potential’ programme, which seeks to raise the investment readiness of ‘voluntary, community and social enterprise’ (VCSE) organisations. The BIG Potential programme is being delivered by the Social Investment Business in partnership with Social Enterprise UK, Locality and Charity Bank.
Dr Richard Hazenberg, the Research Leader of the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, is leading this evaluation research project and was able to support HMT by providing them with the critical data relating to VCSE investment needs, turnover, debt and asset levels, as well as organisational legal form and staffing levels. The research data provided has significantly strengthened HMT’s case to the European Union and the Treasury very much appreciated the support given, which they identified as very relevant to their policy development needs.
Dr Hazenberg commented: “It was a real privilege to be able to assist Her Majesty’s Treasury with this request. It provides a great example of how research can have an impact at a national and European level, and provides further proof of the University’s commitment to growing the third sector so that more social innovation and impact can be delivered”.
More information regarding the Big Lottery Fund’s BIG Potential programme can be found online at http://www.bigpotential.org.uk/