The previous government talked a lot about “investment” when they maybe really meant spending. Most of us probably do this too – we might talk about “investing” in our young people when we pay teacher’s salaries, for example.

But there is a distinction between revenue, income or funding on one hand and finance, capital or investment on the other. One is money to do stuff. The other is money to help you do more stuff or do it more effectively.

You buy toast but you invest in a toaster. You buy grass-seed but you invest in a lawnmower. You pay rent but invest in shares.

It doesn’t matter much though.

Except it can, for example, when people confuse income and investment for social enterprises delivering public services. The answer to falling income is not more “investment”, it’s more income. Or cutting costs.

If your youth services budget is being cut by 80% this financial year, the Big Society Bank or Social Impact Bonds will not coming riding to the rescue. They may turn up in a year or two and help us grow and develop what we do. But they will not fill holes in your income stream this year.

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