Report of the Chief Grants Officer and Director of City Bridge Trust (CGO)
The Board discussed a report of the CGO providing short updates on the Bridge House Estates Governance Review and the development of the Board’s future social investment strategy (City Bridge Invest).
The CGO introduced the report and gave Members some further update on the Bridge House Estates Governance Review. The Board noted that whilst some progress had been made, timescales may be affected by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. A further update on the review would be submitted to Committees in June and July 2020. The Chairman added that a Board strategy meeting would be beneficial once sufficient progress had been made, and noted that this could be scheduled in the Autumn if it was not practical by July.
The CGO then gave an update on the development of the Board’s future social investment strategy, City Bridge Invest. The CGO advised that the outlook had changed somewhat since the Board’s last meeting in February 2020, owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, and focus would change accordingly. The CGO had commissioned further work on strategy development for City Bridge Invest by the two principals at Finance for Sustainability and Impulse, Richard Speak and Elizabeth Corrado. The Board noted that Elizabeth Corrado’s engagement in the exercise had been approved by the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and the City of London Corporation’s Procurement team and would be declared accordingly.
The Board then received a presentation on initial thoughts and some of the key
considerations for the design of City Bridge Invest. Elizabeth Corrado and Richard Speak began by giving some background behind Finance for Sustainability, and their experiences supporting charities and community businesses. Finance for Sustainability had more recently designed more impact funds for charitable trusts and organisations looking to invest endowments in a more innovative way and investing in their missions.
The presentation then reviewed the original City Bridge Invest model and its two principal components; Test and Discover and the Main Fund. Finance for Sustainability had undertaken consultation on this with key market stakeholders in social investment sphere, grant making sphere and local political arena and identified some key messages arising from the consultation.
Finance for Sustainability then outlined next steps and the direction of travel, first to test and further develop the City Bridge Invest hypothesis. The emerging significant social challenges post Covid19 would now critically inform the design. Next steps included broader consultation, work alongside the ongoing strategic review of the investment strategy of Bridge House Estates, and gathering broader and deeper evidence of need, demand and opportunity for investment. Finance for Sustainability would also testing some of the key design principles of City Bridge Invest’s Investment Strategy with key stakeholders: Place, Product, Deployment Strategy and Management Strategy.
The Chairman thanked Richard and Elizabeth for their presentation, adding that it followed on from discussions from the Board’s September 2019 meeting, and set up further work on the strategy, in conjunction with the wider Bridge House Estates Review.
The Board then discussed the presentation and the City Bridge Invest strategy. In response to a question from a Member, the Board discussed the Social Investment market and the impact of Covid-19 on the sector, as well as how this would affect needs within the market that might be addressed by City Bridge Invest, with some comparison to City Bridge Trust’s Stepping Stones programme.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the CGO advised that development of the strategy would be kept aligned and in parallel with the Bridge House Estates Review, and that Members would be consulted for their input into its development.
The Chairman summed up that a strategy meeting in September, to consider a summary of work so far, Bridge House Estates Governance arising from the review, City Bridge Invest recommendations and questions, and next steps. The Board could then look to press ahead with the new strategy for 2021. The Chairman asked officers to identify prospective dates for a strategy meeting in September 2020, with a view to drafting a four-part agenda as set out above.
RESOLVED – That the report be noted.