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New report confirm’s South West’s critical need for social impact funding

New report outlines urgent need for funding to tackle pressing social issues in Devon and Somerset

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published a report into the potential for a social impact investment fund for the Heart of the South West. The report, by AchieveGood, reveals that this fund would contribute towards delivering vital inclusive growth and social value for the region, which along with clean growth is a key underpinning strategy for future growth. 

The report – published today – sets out case studies that show how place-based social impact investment in other areas has helped support and enhance local places and organisations, in responding to similar challenges. 

Three key areas needing social investment were identified: Social Mobility, Health & Wellbeing, and Connecting Communities & Building Community Assets. Each theme addresses pressing social issues and showcases viable investment opportunities.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “This report identifies the challenges we face as a region and highlights potential within our communities. A regional or even local social impact fund could be a crucial step towards sustainable growth that benefits all.”

Ed Rowberry, chief executive, BBRC, said: “As the South West’s first homegrown, place-based impact investor, we endorse the findings in this report. Over the last decade we’ve seen first-hand results of impact investment that is aligned with local priorities. To date, we have mobilised over £60 million for purposeful organisations and projects, to deliver meaningful social, economic and environmental outcomes for local communities – from the construction of the largest onshore wind turbine in England to high-quality and affordable homes for key workers, and the expansion of creative and digital education opportunities for local young people from underrepresented communities.”

This initiative aligns with the LEP’s commitment to clean and inclusive growth, supporting businesses, individuals, and communities in the region, promoting resilience, innovation, and sustainable development.

As the LEP approaches a phase of integration and transition, with upper tier local authorities taking on LEP functions, this report highlights the opportunity of targeted social impact investment across the region.

The report recommends the next steps, if a social impact fund were to take place, this includes deepening the dialogue with key stakeholders, to ensure alignment with the fund’s objectives, and also researching, identifying, and nurturing potential opportunities that align with the fund’s mission. Other recommendations include validating the feasibility and potential impact of the fund’s strategies and consolidating the insights and strategies into a comprehensive business plan, including a SWOT analysis and Risk Register.

Drawing from areas that have pioneered place-based impact funds, the region is well positioned to be at the forefront of this movement, to energise its community of social innovators and catalyse meaningful change.

Read the full report.


Comprised of business leaders from across our key sectors, the LEP Board oversees the programme of infrastructure, business support and skills projects being delivered by 2025.

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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.