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27 November 2019

Social Impact Investing within the UK Real Estate Sector

Social Impact investments, investments which generate financial returns alongside positive social outcomes, are moving into the mainstream and have galvanised the UK funds industry.  For those operating within real estate, the social impact investments offer exciting opportunities.

At a joint AREF and IPF seminar, Social Impact Investing: UK Real Estate Sector held in London on 14 November, Partner Melville Rodrigues chaired a discussion aimed at understanding the perspective of institutional  investors when investing in social impact real estate projects and funds. The panel comprised:

  • Peter Hobbs, bfinance;
  • Anna Shiel, Big Society Capital;
  • James Giles, Co-operative Group; and
  • John Gray, Newham Councillor and Joint Vice Chair of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. 

Speaking at the seminar, Melville commented: "I suggest that there are two main catalysts for these investments: a supply driver and a demand driver: Supply is represented by a shortage of social infrastructure.  Hence, we are now experiencing emerging sectors like affordable housing, regeneration and healthcare. An important goal is alleviating social and economic deprivation: the intended beneficiaries are, for example, key workers, the homeless, the infirm and the elderly. The demand driver is reflected by UK pension funds and other institutional investors seeking attractive medium to long-term returns, though these investors are reputation sensitive and risk averse."

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