Investors in charity bond raise £8 million to buy houses for people with a learning disability as the first beneficiaries moved into their house in North Yorkshire over May bank holiday.
A £10 million charity bond that will fund permanent homes for people with a learning disability has proved so popular that it has been oversubscribed by people looking to invest in a bond that gives a social as well as financial return.
Golden Lane Housing (GLH), the housing arm of Royal Mencap Society, launched the bond in February with the support of Triodos Bank. It has already attracted over £8m in total from investors who each put forward £2,000 or over.
Because of EU regulations that apply to this type of bond issue, GLH has now had to stop accepting investments of less than £84,000 but is extending the deadline to invest more than this amount until 28 June. Significant investments have already been made by the Esmee Fairbain Foundation and the Nationwide Foundation.
Alastair Graham, director of Golden Lane Housing said: “The huge demand for this bond shows that there is a real appetite among individual investors in social investment.
“We are now looking for more institutional investors to come on board, and make a real, tangible difference to the lives of people with a learning disability, many of whom are currently excluded from the housing market.”
Living independent lives
A shortage of social housing means just 1 in 3 people with a learning disability live independently. Many are instead sent to live in residential homes, away from their friends and families, or stay living with often ageing parents well into adulthood.
The funds raised by GLH are being used to buy and adapt up to thirty houses across the country, where people with moderate to severe learning disabilities can live independent lives. The first two properties have been acquired and the first people to benefit from investment in the bond moved into a specially adapted house in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, over the May bank holiday.
James, Claire, Sarah and Elizabeth have been great friends since they went to school together (pictured above). They all have severe to profound learning disabilities and Claire has some physical disabilities. Their parents approached GLH to help them find them their perfect home.
Ged Wilkinson, James’s father said: “We always wanted our children to be able to live together, and as independently as possible. For our children to live in a home not a ‘home’ if you know what I mean. That is why we are so thrilled that GLH have been able to use money from the bond to get the perfect house for our children.”
The Easingwold property is the first of up to 30 houses that will be acquired and adapted for people with a learning disability using money raised from this bond issue.
The offer is still open until 28 June to institutional investors, trusts and individuals who are able to make a minimum investment of £84,000. They will receive a fixed yield of 4% per annum for a five-year fixed term. Social investment specialists Triodos Bank worked in partnership with the GLH on the bond issue. Dan Hird, Head of Corporate Finance at Triodos Bank, said: “We have seen strong interest from both individual and institutional investors wanting to be part of something which has strong social impact and offers a good financial return.”
Danyal Sattar, social investment manager at the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, said: “Ten years ago, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation invested £25,000 in the first Golden Lane housing bond. This month, it will repay on schedule. This is a tangible demonstration of social investment in action.
“They have achieved their social objective of providing homes to people with learning difficulties and by repaying the money to us, it is now available to support the charity sector again. Our new investment of £250,000 in this bond reflects our confidence both in Golden Lane Housing and the growth of the social investment market place.”
Lisa Suchet, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, which invested £50,000 said: “It provided a great opportunity to make a significant difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families. This is the first time we have invested in a bond of this nature. “As a funder of charitable work which addresses housing need, it provides the additional benefit that our investment will be returned to us at a later date so we can reuse the funds to create yet more decent, affordable homes for people in need.”
The Big Lottery Fund
Golden Lane Housing was awarded £349,000 from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to help develop its bond proposition. The funding was allocated under BIG’s Next Steps: Supporting Social Investment in England scheme, which is exploring the potential of new approaches to raising finance that will help address significant social issues.
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England chair said: “Today’s news is a key milestone for Golden Lane Housing, who are clearly demonstrating how social investment can tackle deep rooted social issues – such as the challenge of providing people with learning disabilities with appropriate housing so they can lead independent lives.
“BIG is committed to exploring new and innovative ways of making voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations more financially sustainable and better able to help people most in need, particularly during these continuing times of austerity. I am delighted to see the impact our Next Steps initiative is already having on people’s lives.”
Looking to the future
Given the success of this bond issue, GLH may look to launch further bond issues in the future to help the charity to further its mission to provide homes for people with a learning disability.