2022 is coming to a close, and it’s a year that brought fresh challenges to businesses and charities with the cost of living crisis impacting organisations at a time when they are still recovering from the pandemic years.
All of this means our investment activity is increasingly important. Here we reflect on some of our highlights of 2022 and look ahead to what’s coming up.
Our fifth Impact Report published in September entitled, ‘Social Investment for a changing world,’ highlighted continued growth and investor interest in social investment.
We showcased how many different organisations are now benefitting from our investment including charities supporting people at risk of homelessness, domestic abuse, poverty, disability, unemployment or social isolation.
Some of the CEOs from these organisations also talk in depth on how a SASC loan has enabled them to scale their operations and better meet the needs of their communities.
One of our major achievements in 2022 was the launch of Social and Sustainable Housing II (SASH II) – our second fund delivering supported accommodation across the UK. This follows the success of the first housing fund launched in 2019, which has raised and allocated £64.5m to 20 organisations.
The fund launched with almost £35m of commitments and will allow us to continue providing loans of between £2m and £10m to best in class social landlords with experience of providing housing and a high level of support to disadvantaged clients.
We are now focusing on fundraising. Our target is to raise £125m which would allow us to help over 30 organisations purchase 1,000 properties and provide homes for 10,000 people over the lifetime of the fund.
We are delighted that we have already seen investment from Scottish National Investment Bank, Big Society Capital, Manchester Combined Authority, the Church of England’s Social Impact Investment Programme, Ceniarth and Ogelsby Charitable Trust. More investors are confirmed already and we expect a second close in spring 2023.
During 2022 we welcomed one new employee and moved offices. The team doubled during the covid years and the addition of staff skilled in investment, portfolio management, finance and legal has been fundamental to our growth and success this year. This expansion, along with new hires in the pipeline, has boosted our capabilities and capacity to meet the future needs of the firm.
In 2022 we also completed an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) impact review (results can be seen in our latest Impact Report), designed to asses our practices and investments through an ESG lens. A major part of this was to make sure that Equity, Diversity and Inclusion practices were fully embedded in our culture as the team grew.
The use of an ESG framework also highlighted, that while our work in housing is clearly Social (i.e. ‘S’), we also need to ensure we are intentional in our commitment to ‘E’ and ‘G’.
As a result, our SASH II fund has clear commitments regarding the environmental footprint of the housing we fund, and we will be working with existing borrowers to support them to address the issue.
At a time of significant stress in our energy markets, our Community Renewables investments have continued to support their local areas. We support organisations who, in addition to generating carbon savings, commit to return a percentage of their income each year to local community programmes, including addressing fuel poverty.
We have also expanded geographically. We made our first investment in Wales to Thrive Women’s Aid, a charity that supports women and their children affected by domestic abuse.
Other new borrowers in 2022 include Rochdale charity WHAG, who provide housing and support services to homeless women, and men and women experiencing and fleeing domestic abuse; Oasis Domestic Abuse in Kent, The Benjamin Foundation in East Anglia and One Small Thing, a charity in Hampshire dedicated to redesigning the justice system for women and their children.
In terms of housing charities – it’s been busy. We made several new investments in London-based housing organisations including Trinity Homeless Projects in West London to provide affordable homes in Hillingdon and Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid.
We also made a second investment to Peter Bedford Association to expand its portfolio of supported housing in Hackney, Islington, and the Borough of Newham in London and a third investment in Target Housing, who work with vulnerable groups across Yorkshire and the Humber, to enable them to purchase and refurbish properties in Barnsley and Doncaster. Target Housing was one of the first investees from SASH in 2019.
We have made repeat investments across our funds, which is testament not only to the bespoke funding and risk-sharing inherent in a SASC loan, but also a reflection of the partnership approach to working that SASC offers.
As we look to 2023, we anticipate growing demand as charities and other social sector organisations struggle against the current economic environment.
We are confident our second close for SASH II will get us closer to our fundraising target so we can support more organisations.
We have already started conversations with some outstanding frontline organisations across the UK and we encourage any organisations active in supported housing to get in touch.
We are excited for 2023 and working with more organisations helping vulnerable people across the UK. From all of us at SASC we’d like to wish you a very happy and peaceful festive season.