Social investment

Social Investments deliver our charitable objectives and contribute to JRF’s long-term purpose of a reduction in poverty and disadvantage.

Our Social Investments achieve a direct social impact (such as affordable homes, employment, low cost finance, affordable energy) and an expectation that the money can be returned, so it can be invested again. JRF’s definition of poverty is when a person’s resources are not sufficient to meet their basic needs, which includes the need to be part of society. Our social investments help solve poverty.

Why we make social investment

As a society, we believe that supporting each other is the right thing to do. To that end, JRF has been making social investments since 2015, and we have a portfolio of just under 30 investments agreed, with over £12 million committed. However, we will not be making any new social investments for a short period while we await the findings of a programme of research designed to ensure our social investments support the goals of our new strategic plan:

  • a prosperous UK without poverty, where more people want to solve poverty, understand it and take action,
  • a decent, affordable home for everyone, with a good living standard and prospects,
  • more people finding a route out of poverty through work,
  • a better social security system that acts as a springboard, helping people find a route out of poverty.

In the meantime we will focus on implementing our existing commitments, complete legal work, drawdowns and investment management work. This will enable us to support our current investees well, and will maximise the impact our existing portfolio has on loosening the grip of poverty in the UK.

For further information, contact Louise Fairley [email protected] in our Financial Management team.

Current portfolio

At 31.12.2018 we have committed around £12 million to social investment. We have made direct investments into charities and social enterprises such as Glasgow Together, Fair for You and Timewise. We have made investments into specialist funds such as Big Issue Invest and the North East Social Enterprise Fund. We backed affordable housing in the form of the London Community Land Trust and the National Homelessness Property Fund.

The most significant social investment is a £3m commitment to the Fair by Design Venture Programme. This is a fund, managed by Ascension Ventures, which directly invests in for-profit businesses, social enterprises and charities that are aiming to solve the poverty premium. This is where people in poverty pay more for the same goods or services than others do. We have invested alongside other founder investors Big Society Capital and Social Tech Trust in this fund. It has a target size of £15m.

Alongside the Venture Programme is the Campaign Programme. This aims to take the findings from the investments in the fund, and turn them into advocacy and policy change recommendations. Initial research work at JRF is now being taken forward in an independent programme managed by Barrow Cadbury Trust and supported by a range of grant funders including JRF. The Campaign Programme became operational in 2018. 

A full list of our investments can be found below.

JRF Social Investments (committed funds) at Q4 2018
Name Description

Size of investment (£)

Affordable Housing
National Homelessness Property Fund £43.7m+ national fund to buy property to house formerly homeless people with St Mungos Broadway 500,000
London Community Land Trust £0.45m of development funds for the London CLT for affordable homes in London 100,000
Funding Affordable Homes £44m fund, target size £200m to fund affordable housing and other social purpose property 500,000
York Refugee Housing £0.5m to purchase homes for refugees in York 500,000

Hartlepool Housing Heroes

A loan to purchase and renovate a house for care leavers to refurbish and live in 75,000
Ashley Community Housing £0.5m fund to purchase houses and flats for refugees in Birmingham


Micro Rainbow Charity providing safe temporary housing for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees 400,000
Total 2,275,000
Social Impact Funds
North East Social Investment Fund £10.2m fund to invest in charities and social enterprises in North East 500,000
Big Issue Invest SEIF II £22.4m fund to support growth of social enterprises nationally 500,000
Bridges Evergreen Fund £50m fund to hold long term investments in charities and social enterprises 500,000

Mustard Seed

A managed account to invest in for-profit social purpose enterprises tackling UK poverty


Fair by Design - making life affordable

JRF with Big Society Capital and Social Tech Trust to solve the poverty premium, £15m fund target managed by Ascension Ventures 3,000,000
Total 5,000,000
Financial Inclusion
Leeds Credit Union Subordinated debt to underpin the capital base of this major Yorkshire based credit union 250,000
Fair for You Charity providing loans for white goods and essential household items, as an alternative to high cost rent to buy 500,000
Fair Finance Personal Loans Support for personal microloans in London 130,000

Fair Finance Business Loans

Support for microbusiness loans 50,000

Five Lamps

Funds towards a £5m investment raise to help grow the leading North East based micro-lender expand its operations across the UK

Street UK Investment to loan portfolio (repaid in full) 250,000
Bristol Credit Union To provide long term patient funds to underpin growth of the credit union’s savings and loans service into underserved areas of Bristol



A flexible revolving credit facility to support Moneyline’s seasonal cash flow and further extend its provision of affordable loans


Total 2,530,000
Other social investments
Shared Lives Development funding for replication of shared lives schemes nationally 350,000

Our Power

(in administration)

Provision of affordable energy 1,000,000
Glasgow Together  £2m charity bond to purchase land and derelict property for renovation by ex offenders 250,000
Timewise Growth capital to enable this flexible working consultancy to expand 250,000
RefuAid Supporting access to licensing or training for refugees in the UK 210,000
Total 2,060,000
Total Social Investment Portfolio 11,865,000

To contact our Social Investment team, please email: [email protected]

For more information on social investment, visit the Good Finance website. This includes background information, case studies and a list of advisors and providers of social investment.