Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 14th July 2010.
What progress he has made in establishing the Big Society bank.
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The Government are committed to setting up that independent wholesale bank to develop the market for social investment. It will be funded by dormant bank accounts and I will work with ministerial colleagues to establish it by April 2011.
When visiting the River Bourne community farm in my constituency in Salisbury and many other community groups, I found that one of their big concerns is the bureaucracy that they might face when accessing the funds from the Big Society bank, though they are encouraged by its creation. Will my hon. Friend confirm the process and the means whereby small community groups, which do not have the information, can access those much needed funds?
The intention is for the bank to be as independent and unbureaucratic as possible. It will be a wholesaler, not a retailer, so it will support intermediaries that are growing the market for social investment. If it invests in social enterprises in Salisbury, it will do so through intermediaries that have structured financial products, such as social impact or community bonds that connect private capital with the opportunity for good, and for social impact.
Has the Minister had any discussions with credit unions? The big idea of a bank is very similar to what already exists. Why reinvent the wheel?
I have had a series of discussions with several intermediaries in the marketplace that are in the business of trying to encourage and support social investment. The intention is for the bank to stand behind and support those intermediaries to allow them to do more.