King’s College London hails success of alternative investor Cheyne Capital’s social impact strategy

Stuart Fiertz, Cheyne Capital

A social impact real estate fund run by London-based alternative asset manager Cheyne Capital has made a “real impact on individual lives”, an independent audit by King’s College London’s Policy Institute has found.

The Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund – which invests across affordable and keyworker housing, temporary accommodation, and homes for adults with learning disabilities – has offered “genuine value to local authorities compared with their other options for delivering affordable housing”, the audit noted.

Launched in 2014 to help tackle the housing shortage faced by disadvantaged groups in the UK, Cheyne’s first social impact strategy has been audited on an annual basis for the past seven years by KCL’s Policy Institute.

“Sources have consistently reported that the quality of homes delivered by the fund is higher than what is generally available for affordable housing, providing a new standard of what should be possible,” the report said.

The audit – which measured the impact of each of the fund’s investments – indicated that Cheyne’s involvement in each project has helped raise living standards, and made a “real impact on [the] individual lives” of the various stakeholders, spanning tenants, council representatives and the wider community.

Stuart Fiertz, Cheyne’s co-founder, president and head of responsible investment, described the results of the audit as “a source of great pride.”

“When we launched this strategy seven years ago, we were confident that our approach would balance social and financial returns – but, as is often the case when venturing into new territory, many questioned whether this could be done,” Fiertz added.

He said the Policy Institute’s audit “not only confirms our belief – that social and financial returns can be complementary – but which also asserts that we are setting a new standard of what is possible.”

The fund has enabled local authorities to provide high quality emergency and temporary accommodation during a protracted housing affordability crisis, the audit noted, adding the fund “has filled a need in several housing spheres, beyond homelessness.”

The fund’s investment approach “can be thought of as a proof-of-concept for the viability and cost-saving potential of private investment to help local authorities in the provision of affordable housing,” it added.

Dr Rebecca Benson of King’s College London said: “Many of our fieldwork participants for this and previous reports have commented on the Fund’s flexibility and creativity, and reported a general impression of the fund as an investor willing to work with partners to find financial solutions for their unique needs.”