UK's Big Society Capital invests a pure £1m


The UK social investment bank, Big Society Capital, has agreed £1m for a carbon reduction charity in its bid to deliver a £7m income boost to deprived communities across the UK.

Big Society Capital’s investment in PURE – the Clean Planet Trust – will be augmented by donations from companies such as Barclays and British Airways.

PURE’s Community Energy Fund represents an innovative blueprint for combining social and private investment to benefit deprived communities and the environment. It provides low interest loans to community-led projects, enabling them to set up small-scale renewable energy schemes.

To date, PURE has used funds from Big Society Capital to issue around £150,000 of low interest loans to five community-based projects, including Fenham Swimming Pool in Newcastle and the Southmead Development Trust in Bristol.

As well as reducing carbon emissions, the projects also provide a continuing income stream for their communities from energy savings and via the Feed-in Tariffs and the Renewable Heat Incentive. The projects funded so far will reduce CO2 emissions by 1,200 tonnes and generate over £500,000 of new community revenues.

PURE CEO Robert Rabinowitz said he was ‘proud of PURE’s record in ensuring that investment from the likes of Barclays and British Airways is maximised on the ground’. He added: ‘Our innovative funding model ensures that we can provide at least £2 of funding to projects for each £1 that’s been donated. We’re sure that more corporate investors will follow suit and invest in new projects across the country.’

Big Society Capital CEO Nick O’Donohoe commented: ‘PURE’s innovative approach illustrates how Big Society Capital and social investment can work with major companies to deliver benefit to society.’

Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, said: ‘This great carbon reduction project will deliver social as well as environmental benefits and make a real difference to deprived communities across the UK.

‘Our priority is to build a bigger and stronger society and grow the economy. We set up Big Society Capital so that social enterprises and charities can get better access to finance so they can expand their services and develop better solutions to our social problems – today’s announcement is a great endorsement of this working in practice.’

British Airways’ head of environment Jonathon Counsell said: ‘British Airways' customers who donate to our One Destination Carbon Fund can rest assured that their money is making a real difference in supporting environmentally friendly projects in communities across the UK.’

Barclay’s managing director of brand, marketing and citizenship David Wheldon said: ‘What is noteworthy about PURE’s model is that the results benefit both the community and the environment in a sustainable way. Barclays is delighted to support this innovative community finance model as part of our broader focus on social innovation.’

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