We are delighted to announce the start of our ESRC-WRDTP Collaborative Award for a research project entitled:
“Evaluating the Social Value of Innovative Finance – A Case Study of Community Municipal Bonds“.
Recent collaborative research by Dr Mark Davis and Abundance Investment tested the technical, financial and legal feasibility of investment-based crowdfunding as a new model of finance for the public sector (Davis and Cartwright, 2019).
This research led to the co-creation with local authorities of Community Municipal Investments (CMIs) as a new model of finance designed to enhance the fundraising power of local authorities to meet the urgent societal and environmental challenges we face: from decarbonising the economy and building better social housing through to enhancing the provision of health and social care.
Based on ONS and HMRC data, for example, citizens within Leeds may hold a staggering £14 billion of cash and investments in poorly-performing and opaque products offered by mainstream banks. Redirecting just a small and appropriate portion of this money back into the local community via CMIs to finance projects that benefit the local community could transform local economies and generate high levels of social and/or environmental value.
But will it work in this way, for whom and in which circumstances?
With two CMIs now launched in West Berkshire and Warrington, and with more to follow across the UK, we need to evaluate their impact in order to see if and how they contribute to realising better social and environmental outcomes.
Exploring the experiences of multiple stakeholders in this process, including who chooses to invest and why, will be key to assessing the ways in which social value is created or not via this new model of public sector finance.
Beginning in October 2020, Joey Howell’s research – funded by this ESRC Award – will begin by establishing a baseline understanding of motivations for investing in CMIs with unprecedented access to data held by the Abundance crowdfunding platform, the facilitator of CMIs and a market-leader in financing socially and environmentally responsible projects.
Joey’s project will conduct elite interviews with key stakeholders inside local authorities and other organisations linked to the CMI, as well as exploring who chooses to invest and why. Based on this primary data and wider desk-research, the project will make a valuable contribution to debates on social value and how best to deliver positive outcomes for citizens through alternative forms of investment.
The project is supervised by Dr Mark Davis and Dr Katy Wright and will also aim to build / enhance a publications record in high-impact journals.