Written evidence submitted by Big Society Capital


Big Society Capital was set up in 2012 as an independent investment organisation with c.£625 million capital to help grow the social investment market in the UK. The objective was to create and grow a sustainable market for social investment, so that more social purpose organisations, social enterprises, and charities would be able to access repayable finance at a much larger scale and increase their impact for public benefit. So far, this visionary investment has paid off as we have helped increase the money invested into creating positive social impact eight-fold since 2012. Today approximately £6.6 billion is invested into social purpose organisations, social enterprises, and charities in the UK.

Venture Capital is an important aspect of our investment programme. We believe high-impact technology businesses play a critical role in tackling some of the most pressing social issues of today including ranging from financial inclusion to growing levels of mental ill-health. To date, we have backed 14 venture funds, supporting 191 mission driven technology startups reaching approximately 10 million people. An example of a technology company backed through our venture capital funds is Wagestream. Wagestream was set up to eradicate pay-day lenders and improve financial wellbeing for lower income workers by allowing them to live stream their earnings between pay cycles reducing their reliance on predatory forms of credit. Social investment enabled Wagestream to reach over 100 companies with 350,000 employees, supporting 65% of users to cover an unexpected bill with their own wages.

Other organisations in our portfolio include AgilityEco, which has supported nearly 40,000 UK households living in fuel poverty, helping them with utility bills, energy efficiency and household finances, and Switchee, the UK’s first smart thermostat and asset management platform for large social landlords.

Impact is an important part of the venture ecosystem in the UK

As the UK’s venture capital market has grown, so has the number of companies that are using technology to solve some of society’s most pressing problems. There are now over 30 venture capital funds investing for impact in the UK, and many more that invest in impactful companies as part of broader mandates. At Big Society Capital, we have seen 10x as many impact venture funds seeking investment in 2021 versus 2018. The UK is positioned as a leader on the topic, with investors in other jurisdictions looking towards the UK for best practice.

By innovating around user needs, drawing on fast feedback data, and rapidly scaling what works, these ventures are transformative agents for positive change. Beyond benefits to consumers, impact is also a source of value for companies and investors. For example, through accessing and retaining customers, attracting and inspiring talent, reducing risk, and improving access to capital.


Government action could position UK as global leader on impact venture


There is a huge opportunity for the UK to unlock billions more pounds of investment for impact venture and cement its role as an international leader on the topic. However, there are several barriers which are holding the market back from reaching its full potential which government action could help unblock.

We illustrate the high-level barriers and actions as follows and would be delighted to follow up with more detail, if of interest to the Committee:






June 2022



[1] Social Investment Business: What A Relief – A Review of Social Investment Tax Relief for Charities and Social Enterprises, 2019

[2] Big Society Capital - SITR Investment Deals Database

[3] Social Investment Business, A review of Social Investment Tax Relief for charities and social enterprises, 2019,

[4] HM Treasury, Social Investment Tax Relief: call for evidence, 2021,