By Leyla Boulton
Date: 29 September 2019
The mayor of one of the UK’s most dynamic cities has launched a campaign for local businesses to help fund his innovative approach to tackling deep pockets of poverty and promoting an environmental agenda.
In an attempt to encourage private sector contributions, Bristol city council invested the first £5m into CityFunds, the initiative set up by mayor Marvin Rees.
The venture, the first of its kind in the UK, seeks to bring together the private and public sectors and community organisations to advance the mayor’s 2050 vision of a “fair, healthy and sustainable city”, including one that is “carbon neutral and zero-waste”.
CityFunds invites local companies to invest in any one of the city’s four socio-economic priorities, from a greening of energy and transport to equal access to education and economic opportunity. It promises a 4 per cent return to investors.
Andy Street, chair of CityFunds, said the returns would be generated through investing in businesses such as renewable energy schemes owned by neighbourhood trusts based in deprived communities.
“This will create positive social and environmental outcomes that reduce inequality but it also will generate a marginal profit for the fund and, hence, our investors,” he said.
One CityFunds anti-poverty priority is ending child hunger and obesity, which together affect 25,000 children in the city of just under half a million people, according to Sue Turner, chief executive of Quartet, a charity that is among the scheme’s founders. Ms Turner said one project over the summer holiday had taught schoolchildren and their parents how to cook healthy meals.